A blog for parents who want to learn how to navigate the teen years and not just survive but THRIVE!
So how can you tell what might be “typical teenage stuff” or something more serious?
The teen years can be such a turbulent time for everyone involved. They are growing and changing so fast it’s hard to keep up! Each generation faces different challenges which makes it difficult to know what is part of “normal” development.
Here are 5 signs that your teen might be struggling with some mental health issues:
1. Grades start to dip.
It’s pretty typical to notice some changes in grades during adolescence. Think about it, they are older and smarter so it’s only natural that the school work becomes tougher to continue challenging their growing minds. Expectations from teachers and parents start to change because they are capable of more now. So there may be an adjustment period and they may need to dedicate more time to school work or start going to tutoring. The part that isn’t typical is when grades dip significantly, for an extended period of time, and you notice a change in attitude towards school in general.
2.They become socially isolated from family and friends.
Social skills development is crucial to the teen years. Lots of parents can notice a shift from family oriented engagement to wanting to spend more time with their friends. This is part of that “normal” teenage development because it is helping them learn how to become more independent. It is also common for teens to experience changes in their friend groups because of changes in interests, experimenting with identity, and clashes with values. What we want to watch out for is when we notice little to no engagement with family and with peers. This lets us know something else is happening.
3. You notice a change in their appetite.
Among the many changes during adolescence is changes to the body. Due to hormonal and growth patterns it makes sense that eating habits will change as well. An increase in the amounts of food being consumed or the amount of times a day is typical. What we want to watch for is any significant or drastic increase or reduction of the amount of food being eaten. These can again be signs that something more is at play. Food can often be a place where teens can feel a sense of control in their life or it can be a form of coping with stress or other emotions, which can lead to more problems further down the road.
4. Changes in sleep patterns.
Noticing your teen does not wake up for school or needs extra help getting up in the morning? It’s very possible they are not getting enough sleep. According to the national sleep foundation, teens need 10 hours of sleep a night. This can become something difficult to achieve given the growing homework load and extra curricular activities teens start to engage in. They might also be having a tough time “turning off their brain” due to all that’s happening and changing for them right now. This might then mean they are on their phones, talking to friends, or on social media until the early morning hours. What we want to watch out for is if they are getting less than these 10 hours or more than the 10 hours and why. If they are getting the recommended amount, and still feeling tired this might mean something else is bothering them.
5. Mood shifts.
If there was only one word parents could use to describe their teens during adolescence I think it would be “ moody.” Because of those biological changes and influx of hormones it is common for teens to experience shifts in mood and difficulties managing them. Everything about the teen years is at level 10, especially emotions. What we want to look out for though are drastic or significant changes in mood regulation. Do you notice any significant difference in anger, irritability, sadness, or crying? Does it feel like these moods shift from moment to moment? Do they last for days, weeks, months? If so, then a little more digging is required.
All of these signs can be within a “normal range” but it is when we notice significant or drastic changes in our teens that we should consider reaching out for some additional help.
So what are some solutions to helping your teen learn to work through their mental health struggles? Grab the free Solutions Handout below for my top 3 options in working through mental health issues with teens by clicking below.
Wishing you hope & healing.