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Common Signs That Your Teen Is Troubled

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The teenage years are naturally a tumultuous time in life. Biological, social, and family changes are all converging in a very short period of time. Added to this are new responsibilities, like driving and voting, and new-found freedoms, like college and dating. It is difficult for young men and women who are balancing precariously between childhood and adulthood to make decisions that will impact their lives in positive ways. Like all stages of development, the teenage years are years for learning. Unfortunately, some of the most powerful lessons are those learned from mistakes.

Did You Know

According to the The Guttmacher Institute, the United States has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy among all developed nations.

While parents can expect and accept certain poor choices to be made during the teenage years, there are patterns (repeated behaviors) that should send up warning flags. Some of the following are common patterns that many at-risk teens exhibit:

  • Lack of acceptance by peers
  • Being overwhelmed by school life
  • Attendance problems
  • Apathy toward learning
  • Low core class grades or school failure
  • Behavior problems
  • Lack of confidence academically or socially
  • Fear of failure or expectations of failure
  • Inability to set goals
  • Lack of advocacy skills
  • Withdrawal
  • Substance abuse
  • Anger
  • Risky behavior

When you begin to recognize negative behavioral patterns, it is important to address them and not just chalk them up to the "mystifying teenage years." Even though teenagers often shut parents out and lack communication skills, it is important to communicate clearly and often with them.

How Can You Help Your Troubled Teen?

You must remember that even though your child is a teen, you are still his/her parent and greatest advocate in life. You must deal with issues on all fronts. At home, you need to set clear expectations and follow through with upholding them. Remember, discipline is not about punishing; it is about expectations. Work with coaches, church leaders, family members, and friends to build a trustworthy network that makes both you and your teen feel like you are working together. Do not create a team that seems to be working against your child or you may alienate him/her more.

In the school setting, begin by meeting with your child's teachers and school counselors to find out if there are programs in place that will help meet your child's needs and address his/her deficiencies. Try to find classes and programs that provide:

  • A focus on developing the higher-order skills required in the modern workplace: problem-solving and decision-making skills, learning strategies and creative thinking
  • Tasks like those carried out by the people in a real-work setting
  • Teachers who function as a facilitator and coach rather than a lecturer
  • More hands-on activities
  • Field trips to provide experiences to see real opportunities available to them
  • Longer class periods for core subjects so content doesn't get shortened
  • Individually scheduled parent/teacher conferences
  • Self-advocacy counseling sessions
  • Smaller class sizes

High schools are busy places and if you are not an advocate for your child, it is easy for him or her to get lost in the crowd. Keep in constant contact with the school and make sure your expectations and your child's are being met.

Raise Your Hopes

Although your teen is growing and emerging from childhood, you still want to be the best parent you can be. You want to give your teen every chance at a healthy, happy life. At MyExpertSolution, we have experts specializing in teenagers, parenting, and education who are here to help you find the guidance you need. Let us help raise your hopes as you raise your child.

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