One of the pitfalls of being a parent is dealing with the tough adolescent stage that every teenager goes through. With bodies changing and social pressures escalating, teenagers’ behavior will naturally change as well.
The importance that Roy Petitfils, an internationally recognized expert in understanding teens, expresses, is for adults to recognize the difference between normal teenage behaviors and those that might indicate a more serious problem.
At this stage in life, many teenagers focus on fitting in with their peers, as well as fighting to make sense out of their lives and their futures. Unfortunately, parents can easily become confused by these changes in attitude and the overwhelming desire for independence, often leading to the assumption that their teen has now become rebellious.
However, no adolescent will remain the cheery, excited child they once were. It can be expected that any average teenager will ignore their chores without constant reminders, will put off schoolwork, and usually question authority, which is generally aggravating for parents. But it comes with the territory.
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s equally, if not more, important for parents to be able to recognize any abnormal behavior that might indicate something may actually be seriously wrong, potentially damaging the teen’s self-worth.
One of the most outright signs of potential emotional problems is a sudden and drastic change in personality. This can include angry outbursts, the heavy use of profanity, and extreme disrespect towards their peers.
There are even physical signs that can point to something wrong, such as oversleeping or a lack of sufficient sleep, self-harm, as well as extreme weight loss. While some of these can be hidden by a teenager, rapid changes in weight, potentially stemming from eating disorders, should be easy enough to notice.
Being distracted or overtly trying to fit in are normal teenage behaviors that will dissipate as they mature. But the growing darkness and hatred that comes with true rebellion can continue to escalate without help.
Pushing teenagers to get help when nothing is truly wrong may actually encourage them to question their self-worth, while ignoring the problem can leave teens to further damage themselves. Understanding the difference can decide their future.