No parent ever wants to learn that their child is struggling in any way. What can be worse is when your teen is struggling without your knowledge. Not all teens will openly tell you when something is wrong, and unless you’re paying attention to the right signs, health issues and problems like mental health concerns can easily go unnoticed, especially if your teen is trying hard to hide it.
That’s why it’s essential for any parent to understand the warning signs they need to watch out for to know that their teen is struggling. That way, you can be the first to approach the situation and open up a dialogue about what is troubling them in order to work together to overcome the problem.
Here are seven key signs which may indicate that your teen is struggling and needs your help.
Angry and Destructive Behavior
All teens will go through changes in behavior and will be prone to outbursts due to hormones. Not every bout of anger is a cause for concern, but it’s important to take note of how often it’s happening, how easily it’s happening, and how seriously it’s happening. If your teen loses their temper very quickly over the smallest of things, these irritable mood swings could be an indication of something more.
Furthermore, any destructive behavior, such as physical violence or abuse of substances like alcohol, could indicate further trouble.
Change in Sleeping Habits
As a parent, you’ll know your teen’s sleeping habits better than anyone.
While teens are expected to indulge in late nights and long lie-ins, it’s also a good idea to keep an eye on sleeping patterns in general. Too much sleep can indicate mental health trouble and low mood. If your teen is napping throughout the day, is staying in bed very late on days off, and seems exhausted no matter how much sleep they get, this is a red flag.
Likewise, any change in sleeping patterns that indicate your teen is not getting enough sleep is also a problem. Your teen could be suffering from insomnia or perhaps struggling to get to sleep because of stress or anxiety. You should check in with your teen to ask how easily they are sleeping at night, as they may be in their room and in bed to your knowledge, but may be lying wide awake.
Severe Low Mood
Your teen may be suddenly acting very unhappily. You may have noticed they lack amusement, positivity, or even a smile when they see you. Perhaps when you speak to them, they are only negative in every conversation. They may also make remarks about how unhappy they are, or you may simply be able to notice based on their behavior and body language.
There is another important way to gauge how low their mood is. You can base it on the events in their life. If your teen is remaining negative and finding no joy in events, celebrations, or activities — especially those which they should usually enjoy, like their own birthday celebration — this is a good indicator too.
A severe low mood is a vital indicator of depression. You can seek support from teenage depression treatment centers that know how to help both your teen and you as a parent.
Change in Eating Habits
As a parent, having set family mealtimes is encouraged so that you can more easily notice any changes in your teen’s eating behavior. Your teen may be eating very little or avoiding meals altogether.
At the opposite end of the scale, your teen may have a very unhealthy appetite and may be partaking in excessive eating or binge-eating. Overeating can be a symptom of mental health conditions as much as undereating can be.
You may also find your teen acting very distracted during mealtimes, such as picking at their food or avoiding conversation.
Withdrawing from Friends
Withdrawing from friends or from any social activity they would usually make an effort to partake in is a big sign they need your help. Your teen may have become more and more isolated, and you may not have seen them having their usual friends round, or perhaps they haven’t been out in a while. Feeling unsociable and not wanting to speak to other people can be a good indicator of mental health struggles. It also may indicate they may be hiding something or becoming more secretive.
There may be another explanation, such as perhaps naturally drifting apart from friends, but raising the subject with your teen to ask about it is always a good idea.
Struggling With Their Education
It’s important to pay attention to school reports or information from your teen’s teachers to understand how their performance at school is. Any struggles with education can be a signifier of other problems.
- Disruptive behavior in class
- Being aggressive or angry towards teachers or other pupils
- Failing in exams
- Due to Failing to turn their work in on time
- Failing to complete any classwork at all
- Being very quiet or isolated in class
- Being distracted or not listening to the teacher
- Skipping school altogether, or always turning up late
A lot of teens will struggle with education for a variety of reasons, but it’s important to understand the reasons behind any behavioral problems, especially if it’s a change out of the blue, such as a teen suddenly failing exams if they usually get top marks.
Your teen may be acting completely like their normal self. They may be keeping up with their classwork and social scene and may not be displaying any behaviors which are cause for concern.
Any Physical Changes
However, physical changes can reveal a lot more than what your teen may be telling you. If they have lost significant amounts of weight — or gained a lot of weight — look pale, ill or exhausted, or any other physical causes for concern, there may be something else going on that they are keeping to themselves.
This could be:
Mental health conditions, although associated with the mind, also have the power to have negative effects on the body as a whole, which means physical changes are to be expected.
Pay attention to any of these signs to make sure that your teen can always find the help they need when they need it.