One of the most perplexing issues a parent faces is how to determine when their child, teen or young adult is at risk for such behaviors as depression, drug/alcohol abuse, school failure, self-destructive behavior, violence or suicide. When does a parent need to step in to help and/or seek professional intervention? The following lists are not exhaustive.
They are an important filter as you closely consider the behavior of your child, teen or young adult.
I would caution parents not to compare your child’s behavior to anyone else’s, not even another one of your children’s. Each child, teen and young adult is unique and the signs may be very subtle and inconsistent. When you believe your child is at risk, then respond.
Over the years I have seen too many parents in and outside of courtrooms and hospitals who have said, “I wish I had done something sooner — I simply thought it was a phase and that they would outgrow the problem.”
How do you know the difference between a troubled teen and a teen who’s just going through adolescence? You have to look at all of the pieces, not just one in isolation.
For example, a child or teen who’s sleeping a lot may need more rest and also may be an adolescent. When they are sleeping, have depression, and are disrespectful and are also lying, then it may be something more. Moodiness by itself may not be a red flag. Severe mood swings may be something you have to pay attention to. When do you need to seek professional help? When your child, teen or young adult is not responding to whatever methods you’re using to intervene, you need to seek professional help. Instantly you need to seek help when the child or teen is saying “suicide.” Seek outside help when the child or teen is not responding to you or family members who are reaching out to help them. when things are not getting better, the worst thing you could do is postpone it.
Over the last 20 years I’ve had too many people tell me, “I wish I could have done things sooner; I just thought it was a phase.”
You have to follow your gut and not abandon the issue.