This is a question I hear often from parents - is something going on that I should be concerned about? Or is my teenager just being a teenager? Often times, there isn’t an easy answer, but there are certain things that parents can look for to get a better idea of whether or not their teenager needs additional support. The two things to consider are:
CHANGES and GUT FEELING
This is the thing that I like to look for - changes in appearance, friend group, attitude and/or demeanor, academics, extracurricular activities, or other changes that make you stop and think. When I talk about changes, I’m referring to changes that are considerable and in more than one area. When you notice these changes, it's important to ask them about it and try to find out more information. While he/she may get upset or angry, often times they may not know how to ask for support, or even that they need help. Let him/her know that you're worried and that you love him/her.
Change Example: Your A/B student is suddenly failing 2 classes and his English teacher (normally his favorite subject) just emailed to say that he hasn’t turned in his last 2 major assignments and is at risk of failing the semester. In addition, he used to bring his friends over all the time, and it was the same friends he’s had for several years, but now, you never see his friends. Whenever you ask about his friends, he discounts the friendships and indicates that he’s not hanging out with them anymore. You’re not sure who he is hanging out with - you don’t recognize their names, and you’ve never met them. For as long as you can remember, he has auditioned for the school play and musical, but suddenly, he doesn’t want to audition anymore. At home, he seems more irritable, distant and withdrawn. He spends a lot of time in his room, and when you’re able to drag him down for dinner, he gets annoyed and maybe even angry at every question you ask.
As for your GUT FEELING…well it’s just a gut feeling that something isn’t right. Maybe you can’t put your finger on it, or maybe you’re noticing some of the changes mentioned above and it’s giving you this feeling in your gut. Here’s what I would say - TRUST YOUR GUT and, after talking to your son/daughter about it, try to find the support he/she needs. Here are some options:
1. Start with your family doctor or pediatrician - tell them about the changes you’re seeing and see what they suggest.
2. Contact their guidance counselor or school social worker and give them some information about what you’re noticing at home and see if they’ve heard anything at school, or ask them to check in on him/her.
3. Find a therapist on your own. Here are a couple of places to start:
Check with your insurance to find out who is in your network
Consult with your family doctor
Please feel free to reach out to Meagan at anytime for a free initial phone consultation. Good luck parents!