As a result of the major developmental changes that are happening in the teen years, they are often filled with conflict in the family. Parents may be frustrated and angry that the teen seems to no longer respond to parental authority. Methods of discipline that worked well in earlier years may no longer have an effect. And, parents may feel frightened and helpless about the choices their teen is making. Parents also may feel a sense of loss as their teen ‘leaves the nest.’
The clashes during the teen years are common and may or may not signal the need for a mental health intervention. Typical areas of parent-teen conflict may include:
Dealing with the issues of adolescence can be trying for all concerned. But families are generally successful at helping their children accomplish the developmental goals of the teen years -- reducing dependence on parents, while becoming increasingly responsible and independent. In other words, most kids grow up just fine.
However, there are a number of warning signs that things are not going well and that the family may want to seek outside help. These include aggressive behavior or violence by the teen, drug or alcohol abuse, promiscuity, school truancy, brushes with the law or runaway behavior. Likewise, if you as a parent are losing control or resorting to violent behavior in order to maintain discipline, this is a strong danger sign. Teens who are losing control may benefit from mental health treatment.
Treatment works and can put your teen back on track. How do you know? Here are some warning signs that should not be ignored:
As a parent, you know your teen better than anyone else does. If you suspect that your teen is in need of professional help, and is exhibiting any of the signs listed above, contact a mental health professional who specializes in treating adolescents.