Can You Spot Signs of a Troubled Teen

Signs Of a Troubled TeenParenting a troubled teenager is never an easy task.  However, there is a definite distinction between a troubled teen and a difficult teenager.  All teens will experience changes, such as changing peer groups and styles, occasional moodiness, some rebellion, and an assertion of independence. However, if these behaviors become excessive, they become warning signs of a troubled teen rather than a healthy maturation.  How can you tell the difference in normal development and behaviors of a troubled teen?  Here are some warnings to look for if you are concerned about your teenager’s well-being.

Manifestations of Depression

Moodiness is common during adolescence, and not necessarily a sign of trouble.  However, if you begin to see a variety of behaviors that point to depression, you should consider the possibility that the teen in question is in trouble.  Signs of depression include grades suddenly dropping, excessive sleeping, sudden changes in eating patterns, self-injury or mentions of personal harm, severe mood swings, or a sudden change in social patterns.

If the teen suddenly begins to isolate himself, or abandons friends in favor of a dramatically different peer group, you may want to investigate the causes.  With the exception of self-injury, none of these behaviors alone indicate that you are dealing with a troubled teen.  However, if the behaviors suddenly begin to appear together, you may have more on your hands than just a difficult teenager.

Honesty – or Lack Thereof

Adolescence will naturally seek more autonomy.  Even non troubled teenagers break the rules, rebel, and lie from time to time to avoid trouble.  However, a troubled teenager will take these behaviors to an extreme.  Consistently breaking curfew, sneaking out, lying consistently to avoid consequences and the use of drugs and alcohol are all signs that your teen may have gone beyond normal rebellion.

An occasional overstep of boundaries is normal, but if you feel like your teen knows the boundaries and rules yet does not care about them or the consequences, you may have a teenager in trouble.

Unexplained Money or Possessions

If your teenager has a job, that is a good sign.  But if she’s working for minimum wage, yet seems to be consistently acquiring things well outside the scope of that fast-food pay check, you may have cause for concern.  Conversely, the same goes if she never seems to have any money, despite working, and without appearing to shop for or purchase anything.

Additionally, if things are consistently disappearing around the house – cash, electronics, jewelry, or prescription medication, chances are you may dealing with a teen in trouble.  This sort of material or financial inconsistency is of particular concern if your teen has suddenly changed peer groups for no apparent reason or is very withdrawn and isolated, frequently lying about whereabouts, or experiences sudden weight changes, because all of these signs can point to potential drug abuse.

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