Teen Internet Addiction: Majority of Teens Want Help Finding Digital Balance
Is your teenager constantly glaring at their screen? Are they part of the screenagergeneration?
Did you know that according to new studies teens are frustrated by their own obsession with their smartphones?
How can parents help them find their digital balance?
Smartphone addiction has become an increasing concern for many parents, especially with the start of school just around the corner, and many students getting smartphones.
Seventy-two percent of teens felt pressured to respond immediately to texts, notifications and social media messaging. A 2018 Pew Research report found that 95 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds had their own smartphones or had access to one, and 45 percent said they were online “almost constantly.”
So what can parents do to help prevent their teenagers from becoming screenagers?
Start with a contract. The first step is to set boundaries, and what better way to do this than to put the rules in writing. Draw up a Cell Phone Contract, or a Family Agreement, with your young user. Family agreements can include rules about when and how the phone may be used, and detail consequences for breaking the rules. You can find numerous examples of cell phone contracts or family agreements online. Almost all of them focus on the same key items, such as sharing passwords with parents, limiting use of the device to certain times of the day and in certain places, promising not to use the device for inappropriate photos or bullying, and so on.
Set limits and monitor use. Consider creating “no phone zones” in your home, like the dining room table, and making sure your teen is putting the phone away at certain points of the day. Also, take advantage of parental controls to set limits on your child’s smartphone use, and monitor it. Set monthly limits on texts and mobile purchases; and restrict texting, data usage and outbound calling during specified times of the day. There are also monitoring services that let you view your child’s texts, call logs, phone location and more.
Create daily and weekly offline time. Most teens admit to having FOMO, or fear of missing out, on something, and the need to respond quickly when they receive messages and notifications. That constant potential feedback loop can lead to obsessive behaviors that disturb the course of daily activities. Researchers say creating daily and weekly offline time as part of the family routine can be helpful.
Be cyber aware. Being constantly connected brings increased risk of theft, fraud and abuse. Educate your young user on internet safety tips. Stress the importance of never sharing their personal or family information online and never engaging with strangers online.
Be a role model. As parents, we should consider our smartphone habits as well. The 2015 Pew survey found that 46 percent of American adults believed they could not live without their smartphones. If we expect our kids to limit their time on their smartphones, then we too need to practice what we preach.
States with the Most At-Risk Teens for 2020 (During COVID)
COVID has no doubt, brought more challenges for parents of teenagers. Many are having difficulties with social distancing and online schooling.
Growing up can be hard. Without a stable home, positive role models and tools for success, many young Americans fall behind their peers and experience a rocky transition to adulthood. Today, about one in nine individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither working nor attending school. Others suffer from poor health conditions that hinder their ability to develop physically or socially.
Such issues not only affect young people later in life, but they also prove harmful to society as a whole. For instance, more than 70 percent of young adults today are ineligible to join the U.S. military because they fail academic, moral or health qualifications.
Research shows that when youth grow up in environments with economic problems and a lack of role models, they’re more at risk for poverty, early pregnancy and violence, especially in adulthood. The environment is even more difficult for these young Americans in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt the job market, caused schools to be held online and kept people far more isolated than usual. The pandemic is also a cause of severe stress, and some youth may not have anyone to turn to for support.
To determine where young Americans are not faring as well as others in their age group, especially in a year made extremely stressful by the COVID-19 pandemic, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 16 key indicators of youth risk. The data set ranges from share of disconnected youth to labor force participation rate among youth to youth poverty rate.
States with Most At-Risk Youth
States with Least At-Risk Youth
2. District of Columbia
45. Rhode Island
46. North Dakota
6. New Mexico
48. New Hampshire
9. West Virginia
50. New Jersey
Louisiana has the highest share of disconnected youth, 20.00 percent, which is 2.9 times higher than in North Dakota, the lowest at 7.00 percent.
New Mexico has the highest share of youth without a high school diploma, 17.30 percent, which is 2.4 times higher than in Hawaii, the lowest at 7.20 percent.
Mississippi has the highest share of overweight or obese youth, 56.01 percent, which is 1.7 times higher than in Idaho, the lowest at 32.97 percent.
Vermont has the highest share of youth using drugs in the past month, 38.41 percent, which is 2.3 times higher than in Utah, the lowest at 16.42 percent.
Nevada has the highest share of homeless youth, 0.52 percent, which is 26 times higher than in Mississippi, the lowest at 0.02 percent.
Have you exhausted your local resources? Therapy doesn’t work? Considering residential treatment? Learn more about quality help. Contact us today to find out if therapeutic boarding schools can help your teen.
You remember what it’s like to be a teenager trying to fit in and prepare yourself for adulthood. It’s difficult, confusing and oftentimes disappointing. Now you’re watching your teenagers go through some of the same struggles you did at their age.
While your first instinct is to make everything better, this may be doing more harm than good. Growing up is full of disappointments and failures, and that’s OK. Instead of shielding your children from every minor setback, here are a few positive ways to help your teens deal with disappointment:
Hear Them Out
Your teen just tried out for the school basketball team and didn’t make it. He’s upset, embarrassed and disappointed. Let him come to you to vent his frustrations. Try not to speak first or jump in to make him feel better, but rather let him rant and tell you all about what happened without any judgment. The more you listen, the more you can narrow down how your teen is feeling about not making them team and find ways to help him move forward.
Help Them Take Responsibility
Once you’ve heard everything your teen has to say about the situation, you can start asking some questions. For example, if she didn’t pass her driving test, ask her why she thinks that happened. Many teens’ first reaction is to start pointing fingers, such as at the driving instructor, but steer her away from this negative reaction to something she can control. If she says the test was unfair because the questions were too hard, you can ask her if she studied her driver’s permit booklet enough. Ask if those same questions were on the practice tests and if she could have prepared more. Gently explain that the test may not have been unfair but a consequence of her not being ready, and then help her come up with a plan to do better next time.
Come up With a Plan
One of the best ways to deal with disappointment is to come up with a plan for success. Have your son ask the basketball coach what he needs to do to make the team next year, and have your daughter go over the parts of her driving test she struggled with. Then, help your teen come up with ways to improve on these skills.
For example, you could sign your son up for a local basketball league where he can get a lot of playing time. Have him work with a private trainer or coach to work on his skills, and set aside time for him to practice on his own. For your daughter, help her study for the written part of her driving test with practice tests online and create a schedule for driving on your local streets, on the highway and in parking lots. While you can help your teens come up with this plan, make sure they know that they are responsible for following through and working hard to achieve success.
Through every up and down that adolescence presents, it’s important that your children know that you love them unconditionally. Whether they get the lead role in the play or get into college, you love them for who they are, not what they’ve accomplished. Be supportive and helpful in any way you can, but let your teens know that it’s okay to fail every once in awhile because that’s part of growing up. Let them be disappointed, and then help them find a way to succeed.
As a teenager, navigating a depressed friend can be tricky. Maybe your friend doesn’t have understanding parents, perhaps the administration doesn’t preserve privacy, or maybe your friend is simply in a very delicate situation. However, you should not be the sole support for a depressed friend. Here are a few steps to get your friend the help they need.
1. Be Open and Talk
One of the best things you can do for a depressed friend is to acknowledge how they feel. Express concern but be sure to avoid sounding selfish. Phrases like “How could you do this to me?” make the scenario seem as though it is about you rather than them. When you recognize their feelings and their situation, ask them how you can help and what they need from you. Don’t beat around the bush; be upfront about your concerns.
2. Speak to an Adult
Find an adult that can be trusted. Many teens struggle with confidentiality and prefer to suffer in silence than have their parents be told what is going on. Whether it be a school counselor, a teacher, or your own parent, you need to find someone who has access to professional help and advice. Be sure this person will not break your trust. A trustworthy adult will not go straight to the parents. They will take the time to understand the entirety of the situation and find the help your friend needs.
3. Refer Friend to Support Groups
Given the teen suicide rate, a number of teen suicide support groups exist both in reality and online. Whichever option works best for the friend should be taken advantage of. They need to speak with people who understand and have overcome the position they are currently in.
Another good source of support is the Suicide Hotline. The National Suicide Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. The people on the other end are trained in crisis prevention and can be anonymously reached 24 hours a day. You may want to provide this number to your friend or keep the number for yourself in the event your friend has a crisis.
4. Know the Warning Signs
Though your friend may be depressed, you should only begin to truly worry if they start to exhibit the warning signs of suicide. Some of these signs can include outlining plans for suicide, talking about feelings of hopeless or feeling trapped, giving away possessions, withdrawing from loved ones, or an increase in addictive behavior.
Addiction is very strongly linked to suicidal tendencies and anyone with an addiction should be closely monitored. This can include a self-harm addiction though most people who self-harm are often found not to be suicidal. However, any addiction should be treated as soon as it has been identified.
5. Contact Necessary Authorities
It can be extremely daunting to call the emergency line when you are afraid for your friend’s well-being. They may have told you they will hate you if you call the police or maybe you’re worried about outing them to their parents. However, your friend’s safety is the top priority. If you genuinely feel your friend is at risk of taking their own life, call 911 and send them to your friend’s home. An angry friend who is still alive is better than a dead friend.
Learning that a friend is suicidal, particularly in your teenage years, can be overwhelming and alarming. Too many teens internalize that they need to be the supporter and that using outside help is off limits. Most teens are not equipped to handle a suicidal person. You need to reach out and use whatever resources you have available. Don’t be afraid to call a hotline, call the police, or speak to a reliable adult.
Contributor: Steve Johnson has always been dedicated to promoting health and wellness in all aspects of life. Studying in the medical field has shown him how important it is for reputable health-related facts, figures, tips, and other guidance to be readily available to the public.
No doubt, many parents are experiencing new challenges with their anxious teenagers during these uncertain times.
In a recent survey by Common Sense Media, the spread of the coronavirus has upended school for teens, with 95% of 13- to 17-year-olds in the U.S. reporting the cancellation of in-person classes at their schools at least temporarily.
Teens are worried – the average youth is facing stress, anxiety and some are feeling loneliness (according to the survey). For those that were already experiencing risky behaviors, this can be more troubling.
Quarantine life could be a time of relaxation for some, but for some parents of teens, it’s anything but relaxing.
Whether your teen is stressed out from not being able to mingle with their friends, or spending way too much time online (especially since they had to finish school virtually) — maybe your teen is feeling isolated or lonely, are they sinking into a depression? Are they self-medicating? Becoming defiant, angry, raging or even explosive? Are they stealing your credit card — ordering things offline without your permission?
You’ve exhausted your local therapy, in many cases, your teen has been able to manipulate their way around their therapist. Maybe you’ve tried out-patient — even a short stay in a local hospital.
Is residential therapy for you?
When a parent calls P.U.R.E. they are usually surfing the internet and confused by all the fancy websites, terminology they are now learning about (RTC, TBS, Wilderness, transport services and more) and wondering — is this really want my child needs?
The fact is, in many situations you have a good kid that is now making some bad choices and you never in a million years thought you would be facing this day.
None of us did. Yet here we are.
That’s the best part – you’re not alone.
There are many residential therapy schools and programs in our country, probably because there are many families in need of help today. Although there are many good programs and schools – there are also many that you need to be skeptical of – as well as many sales people you need to concerned about that may not have your child’s best interest at heart.
When will you know it’s time for residential therapy?
Have you exhausted all your local resources? From using local therapy to extending into outpatient teens can be easily shut-down. Although we know that many times it’s difficult to get a teen to open up to therapist – or even attend a session, parents need to know they at least tried. When in residential therapy, the entire program evolves around their emotional wellness, 24/7. Being removed from their negativity – helps tremendously.
Living with a relative. Some families have attempted to move the troubled teen to a relative. Again, sometimes this works – and others it can be a band-aid, however it can help you make that decision that you have exhausted your local resources before you decide to choose residential.
Is your teen a danger to themselves or other people (you)? Has your child become violent towards you or themselves? This is when you know it’s time to start researching for residential therapy. It’s not working at home.
Do you feel like you are hostage in your home by their behavior? Do you feel like you are walking on egg shells? Being careful about what you say or how you act for fear they may become explosive? Again, this is a red flag it may be time for residential therapy.
Keep in mind, there are different types of residential therapy. P.U.R.E. can help educate you on what may best fit your child’s individual needs without placing them out of their element. Think you may not be able to afford residential therapy? Take a moment to review the financial options.
During COVID19, most programs are taking precautions to keep your child safe. They will likely have your teen placed in a 2-week quarantine home prior entering a program.
Residential therapy is a major emotional and financial decision. Contact us today for more information.
What’s My Teenager Thinking: Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents
How to avoid conflict with your teen
As the teenage brain rewires, hormones surge, and independence beckons, a perfect storm for family conflict emerges. Parenting just got tougher. But help is at hand.
This uniquely practical parenting book for raising teenagers in today’s world explores the science at work during this period of development, translates teenage behavior, and shows you how you can best respond as a parent – in the moment and the long term.
Taking over 100 everyday scenarios, the book tackles real-world situations head-on – from what to do when your teenager slams their bedroom door in your face to how to handle worries about online safety, peer group pressure, school work, and sex.
Discover how to create a supportive environment and communicate with confidence – to help your teenager manage whatever life brings.
Here’s an example of what you might be going through with your teen:
Order on Amazon
1. I’ll clean my room later
Your teen’s room looks as if it’s been hit by a bomb.
What your teen is thinking…
When he was younger, your teenager’s room was a place to sleep and keep his things. Now he’s an adolescent, he sees it as an expression of who he is, as well as a sanctuary to escape to. Having his things around him makes him safe. Tidying up may also involve a level of planning and self-discipline he hasn’t yet developed.
What you’re thinking…You may feel he’s not respecting your home or the things you’ve bought him, and he’s not developing the organizational skills he needs to look after himself.
How to respond... View your teen’s untidiness as part of his transition to adulthood. The outward mess represents some of the reorganization going on inside his brain. Furthermore, when faced with a big job, your teen may not know where to begin.
Limit instructions to one or two at time, like putting rubbish in a bin bag, followed by putting dirty laundry in the basket. Suggest he blitzes his room for five minutes because once he’s started, he’s likely to keep going.
Talk about how it’s in his own interests, as he’ll be able to find things more easily and clothes look better if they’re hung up, so he’ll want to do it for his own reasons. Keep faith that he’ll eventually work out that a neater room is a more pleasant place to be.
Conduct disorder is a serious behavioral and emotional disorder that can occur in children and teens.
A child with this disorder may display a pattern of disruptive and violent behavior and have problems following rules.
It is not uncommon for children and teens to have behavior-related problems at some time during their development. However, the behavior is considered to be a conduct disorder when it is long-lasting and when it violates the rights of others, goes against accepted norms of behavior and disrupts the child’s or family’s everyday life.
What Are the Symptoms of Conduct Disorder?
Symptoms of conduct disorder vary depending on the age of the child and whether the disorder is mild, moderate, or severe. In general, symptoms of conduct disorder fall into four general categories:
Aggressive behavior: These are behaviors that threaten or cause physical harm and may include fighting, bullying, being cruel to others or animals, using weapons, and forcing another into sexual activity.
Destructive behavior: This involves intentional destruction of property such as arson (deliberate fire-setting) and vandalism (harming another person’s property).
Deceitful behavior: This may include repeated lying, shoplifting, or breaking into homes or cars in order to steal.
Violation of rules: This involves going against accepted rules of society or engaging in behavior that is not appropriate for the person’s age. These behaviors may include running away, skipping school, playing pranks, or being sexually active at a very young age.
In addition, many children with conduct disorder are irritable, have low self-esteem, and tend to throw frequent temper tantrums. Some may abuse drugs and alcohol. Children with conduct disorder often are unable to appreciate how their behavior can hurt others and generally have little guilt or remorse about hurting others.
What Causes Conduct Disorder?
The exact cause of conduct disorder is not known, but it is believed that a combination of biological, genetic, environmental, psychological, and social factors play a role.
Biological: Some studies suggest that defects or injuries to certain areas of the brain can lead to behavior disorders. Conduct disorder has been linked to particular brain regions involved in regulating behavior, impulse control, and emotion. Conduct disorder symptoms may occur if nerve cell circuits along these brain regions do not work properly. Further, many children and teens with conduct disorder also have other mental illnesses, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disorders, depression, substance abuse, or an anxiety disorder, which may contribute to the symptoms of conduct disorder.
Genetics: Many children and teens with conduct disorder have close family members with mental illnesses, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders and personality disorders. This suggests that a vulnerability to conduct disorder may be at least partially inherited.
Environmental: Factors such as a dysfunctional family life, childhood abuse, traumatic experiences, a family history of substance abuse, and inconsistent discipline by parents may contribute to the development of conduct disorder.
Psychological: Some experts believe that conduct disorders can reflect problems with moral awareness (notably, lack of guilt and remorse) and deficits in cognitive processing.
Social: Low socioeconomic status and not being accepted by their peers appear to be risk factors for the development of conduct disorder.
How Common Is Conduct Disorder?
It is estimated that 2%-16% of children in the U.S. have conduct disorder. It is more common in boys than in girls and most often occurs in late childhood or the early teen years.
How Is Conduct Disorder Diagnosed?
As with adults, mental illnesses in children are diagnosed based on signs and symptoms that suggest a particular problem. If symptoms of conduct disorder are present, the doctor may begin an evaluation by performing complete medical and psychiatric histories. A physical exam and laboratory tests (for example, neuroimaging studies, blood tests) may be appropriate if there is concern that a physical illness might be causing the symptoms. The doctor will also look for signs of other disorders that often occur along with conduct disorder, such as ADHD and depression.
If the doctor cannot find a physical cause for the symptoms, he or she will likely refer the child to a child and adolescent psychiatrist or psychologist, mental health professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses in children and teens. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a child for a mental disorder.
The doctor bases his or her diagnosis on reports of the child’s symptoms and his or her observation of the child’s attitudes and behavior. The doctor will often rely on reports from the child’s parents, teachers, and other adults because children may withhold information or otherwise have trouble explaining their problems or understanding their symptoms.
How Is Conduct Disorder Treated?
Treatment for conduct disorder is based on many factors, including the child’s age, the severity of symptoms, as well as the child’s ability to participate in and tolerate specific therapies. Treatment usually consists of a combination of the following:
Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) is aimed at helping the child learn to express and control anger in more appropriate ways. A type of therapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to reshape the child’s thinking (cognition) to improve problem solving skills, anger management, moral reasoning skills, and impulse control. Family therapy may be used to help improve family interactions and communication among family members. A specialized therapy technique called parent management training (PMT) teaches parents ways to positively alter their child’s behavior in the home.
Medication: Although there is no medication formally approved to treat conduct disorder, various drugs may be used to treat some of its distressing symptoms, as well as any other mental illnesses that may be present, such as ADHD or major depression.
What Is the Outlook for Children With Conduct Disorder?
If your child is displaying symptoms of conduct disorder, it is very important that you seek help from a qualified doctor. A child or teen with conduct disorder is at risk for developing other mental disorders as an adult if left untreated. These include antisocial and other personality disorders, mood or anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders.
Children with conduct disorder are also at risk for school-related problems, such as failing or dropping out, substance abuse, legal problems, injuries to self or others due to violent behavior, sexually transmitted diseases, and suicide. Treatment outcomes can vary greatly, but early intervention may help to reduce the risk for incarcerations, mood disorders, and the development of other comorbidities such as substance abuse.
Can Conduct Disorder Be Prevented?
Although it may not be possible to prevent conduct disorder, recognizing and acting on symptoms when they appear can minimize distress to the child and family, and prevent many of the problems associated with the condition. In addition, providing a nurturing, supportive, and consistent home environment with a balance of love and discipline may help reduce symptoms and prevent episodes of disturbing behavior.
A healthy sleep cycle is essential for everyone, especially for teenagers because of their hectic routines and social life. Most sleep specialists generally recommend 9 to 9.5 hours of sleep for teenagers. But a lot of studies show that teenagers are not getting their required sleep hours.
According to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll, 43% of parents complain that their children are sleep deprived. Many of these parents think it’s mainly due to electronics. Children nowadays are glued to their phones all day and night and are completely oblivious to the outside world. Such an attitude is causing major sleep deprivation.
Constant sleep deprivation is having a huge impact on the lives of teenagers in terms of health risk and academics. If you’re a parent with a sleep deprived teen, here are some tips you can follow to help your child sleep better:
1. Make their bed comfortable
The best way to help your sleep deprived teen sleep better is by giving them the right bedding to sleep on. People sleep better when they have a cozy mattress to sleep on and a comfortable pillow underneath their head.
When people sleep on a comfortable bed, their quality of sleep instantly increases. Everyone has a different choice of pillows they could use. Some prefer flat pancake pillows, others might prefer super puffy clouds for a peaceful slumber. If you haven’t been able to find the right pillow for your teen yet, you can take this quiz by Pillow Insider which gives you suggestions based on your preferred sleeping position and firmness level.
Changing the bedding is a much easier way to help your teen sleep better instead of constantly bickering over their phone that they might never get rid of.
2. Make sure their bedroom is a quiet place
As parents you would do every little thing that you can to make your teen get a healthy sleep. So another tip that we have for you is to ensure that your teen’s bedroom is a quiet place with no disruptions.
Before you put your child to sleep you need to make sure that their computers, laptops or iPads are off and there are absolutely no gadgets in their hands. Listening to music before sleeping also doesn’t help at all so remember to take away their headphones before they sleep.
Your child’s bedroom should be the single most quiet and comfortable spot in the house. Teens can sleep better if there is no noise distracting them again and again and no light leaking from the window.
3. Help your child become stress-free before going to bed
One of the leading causes behind sleep deprivation is the restlessness due to stress and anxiety. It’s not just about teenagers, nobody can sleep peacefully if they aren’t feeling light headed.
Today’s teenagers go through a lot of stress, anxiety and depression and most of it is contributed by their high schools. Before your child goes to bed, talk to them and see if they’re okay. You can make all the effort by giving them a comfortable bedding and making their bedroom quiet and peaceful but they can’t sleep if their mind is distracted.
You can ask your child to meditate, do yoga, or talk it out with you to release the stress. Going to bed with stress and anxiety will decrease their quality of sleep and as parents you need to make their worries go away so they can sleep peacefully.
4. Give them snacks that would help in sleeping better
According to many nutritionists and dieticians, having high carb snacks before bedtime does the trick. Eating high carb snacks makes you feel warm and sleepy. If your child is having trouble sleeping, you can try these snacks and put them on their bedside.
Also while giving them such snacks make sure that your child doesn’t consume any caffeinated drink before bedtime. Caffeine gives instant energy that will deprive your child of sleepiness and keep him awake all night. Caffeine could be easily available in your child’s favorite bedtime snack or drink.
Make sure that your child monitors his/her caffeine intake. If they want a drink before bedtime, suggest them to drink herbal tea or chamomile tea. These drinks are healthy as well as beneficial for a peaceful sleep.
5. Discourage daytime naps
Many teenagers have the habit of sleeping in the afternoon after they get back from school or college feeling exhausted. As much as it’s important for them to take a quick power nap, it could also disrupt their night’s sleep.
It is highly advised that if your child is having trouble sleeping at night, make sure they don’t take any afternoon naps because if they go to bed tired at night then chances are that they will fall asleep instantly. Give them some energy drink in the afternoon to keep them awake so they can sleep peacefully at night.
6. Make sure that your child doesn’t procrastinate on school tasks
Apart from getting glued to phones at night, another reason causing your teen’s sleep deprivation could be school tasks. When your child gets back from school, make sure that he/she completes their homework and projects that are due.
It’s only natural that they might want to catch up on some tv or play on their phones but it’s imperative that they complete their work on time so they don’t have to stay up all night. This will also prevent them from having an afternoon nap and they can easily fall asleep at night without any deadlines looming over their head.
7. Consult a sleep specialist
Even if after trying everything your child is sleep deprived and is facing health problems due to it, it might be beneficial to consult a sleep specialist or a health provider. Your child might be going through something that he/she has trouble opening up about so a consultant could be the best option here.
You can follow these tips to help your child sleep peacefully. These are some of the most effective remedies that will work like a charm. And as concerned parents, you should do anything to help your sleep deprived teen sleep better.
Do you think your teen is struggling with depression, sadness? Have you exhausted your local resources? Contact Us to learn more about if residential therapy might be able to help you.
How Do I Recognize If My Teenager Is Using Drugs Or Alcohol?
This is a difficult question that many parents have to face on a daily basis.
By Shawnda P. Burns, LMHC, CAP
Parents who spend a great deal of time with their teenagers are often tuned into what is normal behavior and what is not. However, even parents who are actively involved in the daily activities of their teenagers may overlook – or subconsciously deny – the earliest signs of a substance abuse problem.
Some of the clues that your teenager may exhibit when using drugs or alcohol are fairly subtle, but others are rather obvious:
*Many hours spent alone, especially in their room; persistent isolation from the rest of the family. This is particular suspicious in a youngster who had not been a loner until now.
*Resistance to taking with or confiding in parents, secretiveness, especially in a teenager who had previously been open. Be sure that your teenager is not being secretive because every time he tries to confide in you, you jump on him or break his confidence.
*There is marked change for the worse in performance and attendance at school and/or job or other responsibilities as well as in dress, hygiene, grooming, frequent memory lapses, lack of concentration, and unusual sleepiness.
*A change of friends; from acceptable to unacceptable.
*Pronounced mood swings with irritability, hostile outbursts, and rebelliousness. Your teenager may seem untrustworthy, insincere or even paranoid.
*Lying, usually in order to cover up drinking or drug using behavior as well as sources of money and possessions; stealing, shoplifting, or encounters with the police.
*Abandonment of wholesome activities such as sports, social service and other groups, religious services, teen programs, hobbies, and even involvement in family life.
*Unusual physical symptoms such as dilated or pinpoint pupils, bloodshot eyes, frequent nosebleeds, changes in appetite, digestive problems, excessive yawning, and the shakes.
These are just a few of the warning signs that can be recognized. Be careful not to jump to the conclusion that your teenager may be using when you see such behavior.
Evaluate the situation. Talk to your teenager. Try to spend time with her so that she feels that she can trust you. By creating a home that is nurturing, she will understand that despite of unhealthy choices that she will always get the love and moral support that she deserves.
Building a strong relationship with your teenager now will mean that in time of crises your love, support, wisdom, and experience won’t be shut out of your teenager’s decision making.
If you have a suspicion that your teenager is involved in the use of drugs or alcohol, don’t hesitate to bring the subject up. The sooner the problem is identified and treated, the better the chances that your teenager’s future will be safeguarded. Raising the subject will be easier if you already have good communication in the family.
Discuss the ways in which you can seek help together. An evaluation by a substance abuse professional may be the key to understanding what is really going on with your teenager.
If you have exhausted your local resources, such as therapists, out-patient and possible short-term in-patient, and still find that your teenager is struggling with behavior issues, it might be time to consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information.
The Self-Love Workbook for Teens: A Transformative Guide to Boost Self-Esteem, Build a Healthy Mindset, and Embrace Your True Self
By Shainna Ali PhD.
Order on Amazon
Discover how to change your attitude, build confidence in who you are, and genuinely love yourself through the guided activities and real-world advice in this easy-to-use, friendly workbook for teens and young adults.
As a teen, life can be stressful, whether from worrying about looks, performance in school, relationships with friends and family, or societal pressures. It is easy for you to lose focus and feel like you’re not good enough.
The Self-Love Workbook for Teens gives you the tools to conquer self-doubt and develop a healthy mindset. It includes fun, creative, and research-backed exercises, lessons, and tips, including:
Self-love is a journey, but it is the first step on the path to a happier, more fulfilling life.
In her Psychology Today-hosted blog, A Modern Mentality, she promotes mental health awareness in an effort to improve mental wellness across the globe. Dr. Ali is also an active blog contributor for the American Counseling Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. As a mental health advocate Dr. Ali has been featured in outlets such as ABC, NBC, Yahoo, Bustle, NPR, The Washington Post, and The Insider.