Having Trouble with your Child, Teen or Young Adult?

What’s Normal, What’s Not? 

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HFTT Having Trouble

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.

Children Ages 5 to 12

  • Does your child have poor appearance, hygiene or health?
  • Does your child refuse to get out of bed?
  • Do you fear your child?
  • Does your child have failing grades or trouble with school authority?
  • Does your child have oppositional, defiant behavior, or been diagnosed with ODD?
  • Does you child have severe mood swings?
  • Does your child ignore disciplinary efforts and consequences?
  • Do you have problems with angry outbursts or explosive behavior?
  • Has your child ever been physically abusive or violent?
  • Has your child exhibited attention and/or hyperactivity issues, or been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD?
  • Is your child disrespectful or verbally abusive to you and others?
  • Is your child withdrawing from family and friends and spending all day and night in the bedroom or online?
  • Are you concerned your child is experimenting with drugs and alcohol?

Teens Ages 13 to 17

  • Are communication devices ruling your teens life?
  • Does your teen have poor appearance, hygiene or health?
  • Does your teen refuse to get out of bed?
  • Do you fear your teen?
  • Does your teen have a lot of unexplained money?
  • Does you teen have severe mood swings?
  • Does your teen seem to hate you?
  • Has there been a sudden drop in school performance?
  • Has your teen abandoned their long time friends for new, questionable peers?
  • Is everything a crisis and a drama with your teen?
  • Is your teen lying about most things?
  • Is your teen sexually active?
  • Is your teen staying out too late?
  • Is your teen withdrawing from family and friends and spending all day and night in the bedroom or online?

HFTT Having 1Think of Your Adult Children as a Guest—Not as Children. When you feel compromised and taken advantage of by an older child, you need to realize this: the child is an adult now.

They may not act it. Yes, they are an adult. They are living under your roof. They have to follow your laws. I want you to think of your adult children as guests. Not as children.

That’s the most important thing to do. They’re done with high school; they are now guests in your home. How would you let a guest act? When would you draw the line with a guest?

When would you feel you have to call the police with a guest?

Young Adults Ages 18 and Over

  • Is your young adult doing anything productive with their life? Job, College, Paying their own bills?
  • Do they seem directionless or lost?
  • Does your young adult have poor appearance, hygiene or health?
  • Does your young adult refuse to get out of bed?
  • Do you fear your young adult?
  • Is your young adult abusing alcohol and drugs?
  • Is your young adult abusing over the counter medications?
  • Is your young adult keeping to themselves and avoiding social interactions?
  • Is your young adults behavior spiraling out of control?
  • Is your young adult refusing any help / therapy?
  • Is your young adult withdrawing from family and friends and spending all day and night in the bedroom or online?

When you think your child, teen or young adult is in immediate danger of hurting themselves or somebody else, call 9-1-1 or take them to the emergency department of your nearest hospital.