Teenagers aren’t always the easiest people to get along with. Adolescents are going through some of the most dramatic developmental changes of their lives, both physically and emotionally, and that can be extremely difficult. During this transitional period, you’ll likely notice significant changes in your child’s behavior. Some of these changes are extremely unpleasant, even scary at times. You may see your child transform from a smiley, happy-go-lucky pre-teen to an overly sensitive, moody teenager with a negative attitude and an acid tongue overnight. A lot of this is completely natural, but some teen behavior goes beyond the normal range.
What are signs my teenage child needs therapy?
How can you tell where normal growing pains stop and the behavior becomes a real problem? It can be a murky area, and you know your child better than anyone, so there aren’t any exact rules. Generally speaking, these behaviors make the leap from normal growing pains to problem behavior when they become abusive or self-destructive. Here are a few behaviors to watch for.
Extreme mood swings — Being moody is part of being a teenager. However, if these mood swings are severe or prolonged, or your teen becomes abusive to themselves or others, the problem may be more than simple growing pains. These could be signs of something deeper (i.e. depression or bipolar disorder).
Abnormal amounts of time in bed — Teenagers are notorious for keeping strange hours, but if your adolescent child is spending 10 hours or more in bed every day, it’s possible that they are experiencing a form of depression or engaged in substance abuse.
Self-harm, cutting, or mutilation — Self-harm is a coping strategy for some kids. In most cases, self-harm is an indicator of a serious underlying problem — depression, anxiety, a history of traumatic events, or other troubling issues.
Consistent dishonesty — Most kids will use the occasional fib in an attempt to avoid punishment. However, if you suspect that your teenager is lying to you often, there’s likely something going on that they don’t want you to know about.
Sexually risky behavior — Some forms of sexual experimentation are normal for teens. Dangerous sexual behavior may stem from insecurity or a dangerous sense of invulnerability. It may also be an indicator low self-esteem, lacking self-confidence, or even substance abuse.
No remorse for negative actions— We all make mistakes, and everyone does something that is considered societally “wrong” at some point. If your adolescent shows no remorse for harmful actions, there may be an underlying psychological issue.
These are just a few of the most common signs that your son or daughter may be a candidate for teen therapy. As previously stated, you know your child better than anyone, so you’re already the best judge if there’s a problem. Often a calm heart-to-heart conversation with your child is enough to get their behavior back on track. If that doesn’t work, talk to teachers and school teen counselors about scheduling a meeting with your child. If the problems persist, you may want to schedule a meeting with a doctor or psychologist. Of course, an intensive therapy program like the one offered by Outback Wilderness Therapy is an option if you feel that things have moved beyond your control. Our program is designed specifically for teens who need intensive therapeutic help and would benefit from being removed from negative influences or behaviors that are leading them down a negative path.