OK. I pretty much hear that all the time from my friends. I have two teens right now, and life is often like an exhausting roller coaster ride. They are “coming in to their own” and asserting their independence, but they also need guidance. I find myself in a precarious balancing act between letting them learn through experience, but also keeping them safe. And when I see troubling behavior, I often feel at a loss as to what to do. Do I dismiss it as a normal part of adolescence or is it a warning sign that something is very wrong?
Often, troubling behaviors are a question of degree. For example, many teenagers experience stress, but then bounce back quickly. The question you should ask yourself is, “Does the stress interfere with my child’s daily living and functioning?”
As a general guide, I’ve listed below some “normal” and “not normal” behaviors. I’ve borrowed heavily from the folks at the American Psychological Association to give it more authoritative heft.
But the most important thing of all is that you talk to your child and keep lines of conversation open. This means you need to do MUCH more listening than talking. If you have a nagging feeling that something is really not right with your child, please seek out professional help. You are not alone.
NORMAL FOR TEENS
NOT NORMAL FOR TEENS
|Arguing for the sake of arguing||Being overly aggressive or violent; Abandoning long-time friendships;|
|Jumping to conclusions||Thinking everyone is judging them negatively; Not trusting anyone|
|Being self-centered||Becoming isolated; Not wanting to leave one’s room; Having very low self-esteem|
|Finding faults with adults||Being openly hostile to adults on consistent basis; Being unremittingly defiant|
|Being overly dramatic||Displaying overly fearful reactions; Crying excessively; Injuring self;|
|Having mood swings||Having “up” or “down” moods that last for several week; Experiencing a dramatic personality change; Dropping activities that used to be fun; Declining school performance|
|Experiencing stress||Having so much fear or anxiety that it interferes with daily living; Having lots of physical complaints like stomach aches, joint pain, headaches or dizziness, problems with sleeping, and feeling fatigued;|
|Taking risks||Committing crimes; Abusing drugs or alcohol; Endangering self or others; Being promiscuous;|