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Warning Signs Your Teen Is Struggling

Navigating the teenage years can be challenging for both teens and parents. As your teen makes mistakes, learns, and develops crucial skills to be an independent adult, it can feel like you and your teen are on a rollercoaster. 

A change in your teen’s behavior may cause concern, but it’s important to know that many teen behaviors are normal. Parents can expect to deal with a fair share of mood swings, increased peer influence, and pushing of boundaries.

As teens aim to have more independence and freedom of self-expression, arguments and stress are common. Learning to recognize the warning signs that your teen is struggling enables you to act quickly to get the professional help your teen needs. In fact, you don’t have to wait until your teen is having trouble to introduce them to a professional.

Adolescent therapy is a safe place for your teen to share their experiences, work through challenges, and gain valuable tools. Philip Glickman, Psy.D, and the team at Wellness Road Psychology offer online and phone therapy for adolescents and adults.

If you’re concerned that your teen may be struggling, look out for these common warning signs.

Poor academic performance

Failing to perform as well as expected on a test here and there is rarely a cause for concern. Abruptly declining grades and a drastic change in academic performance is a red flag parents should look out for. 

When teens are overly stressed or otherwise struggling, academic performance usually suffers. If you notice your teens' grades quickly slipping, talk to your child to learn more about their struggles and consider therapy to help get your teen back on track.  

Substance abuse

Teens who exhibit signs of substance abuse should set off alarm bells. Changes in behavior, such as active secretive, are often the first signs of drug and alcohol abuse. Missing school, becoming defiant or hostile are warning signs that your teen is struggling. 

Relying on substances to ease stress or escape from feelings is dangerous, and teens can quickly develop a substance use disorder. It’s crucial to act quickly in these situations before it spirals out of control.

Negative self-talk

Healthy self-esteem gives teens the confidence to try new things and overcome challenges. Negative self-talk is a warning sign that your teen may be struggling with self-esteem. Bullying, trauma, and stressful life events can chip away at your child’s self-esteem.

Low self-esteem can lead to depression and anxiety. The good news is therapy can help identify the root of your teen’s self-esteem struggles. In therapy, adolescents have a chance to talk through and process negative experiences and change thoughts and feelings that contribute to low self-esteem.  

Drastic personality changes

Struggling teens often display personality shifts that are sharply out of character. If your teen is suddenly having mood swings, behaving impulsively, showing extreme anger, or acting abnormally aggressive, this may suggest that your child is struggling. 

Most teenagers experience shifts in mood or might become irritable. What’s most important is to notice abrupt changes that are out of the ordinary or drastically different from your teen’s usual moods and personality.

A therapist can be an incredibly valuable resource for your family throughout your child’s adolescent years. To find out how the Wellness Road Psychology team can help your child contact our office to take the next step.

Contact our team to schedule an appointment with psychologist Dr. Philip Glickman, Jamie Karia, LCSW, Erica Sztabnik, LMHC, or Vivian Martinez, LMHC. We have offices in NYC and Dobbs Ferry and offer online and phone therapy. You can also book an appointment online.

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