6 Reason your Teen Might Benefit from Therapy
I always say teens are the Sour Patch Kids candy of childhood. One minute they are sour, irritable, rude, and distant. You are left wondering where the heck your child went and who this monster is who has replaced them. Before you know it, they are back to their sweet, caring, empathetic self. I can assure you, this is normal. All teens go through some moodiness now and then. This is due to all the chemical and physical changes going on in their brain. The brain is going through just as many significant changes as it did when your child was an infant. That’s inevitably going to cause some mood swings and irritability. However, there are some key signs that your teen's behavior is beyond the norm, and intervention might be a good consideration.
Here are 6 signs your teen might benefit from therapy:
Your teen suddenly changes his or her appearance
When I talk about this, I always think of the main character in the TV show, 13 Reasons Why. She went from being a traditionally beautiful, bright young girl, and then suddenly she is chopping off her hair and dressing in dark oversized clothes. This is a dramatized example, but the idea is the same. Watch out for drastic wardrobe and appearance changes. This could indicate a greater issue occurring that needs to be addressed.
Your teen becomes more withdrawn
Teens typically become more withdrawn and tend to spend more time in their room or just away from others at this stage in life. However, if your child begins to spend excessive amounts of time alone, eating lunch by themselves, avoiding their friends, or just doesn’t want to leave their room at all, these can be causes for concern.
Your teen changes friend groups
To an extent, this is normal. During adolescence, kids will often change who they choose to spend time with. Usually, it’s nothing to be concerned about. It’s just your teen trying to figure out who they are and with whom they are most compatible socially. However, if your teen begins spending time with a “shady” crowd or suddenly drops all of his or her previous friends, it might be best to contact a professional to help address this.
Your teen begins engaging in risky behavior
Again, teens are going to try different activities. Sometimes, parents are left wondering, “what the heck were you thinking?” This is because the part of their brain that controls impulses is not fully developed quite yet. An idea might pop into your kid’s head and they just commit to it without critically analyzing the possible consequences of said action. However, when your kid starts to engage in overly risky behavior, this can be cause for concern. Risky behavior can include but is not limited to drinking, sneaking out of the house, skipping school, having unsafe or unprotected sex, or doing drugs. There is support to help you navigate how to parent your teen through this if your teen begins any of these activities.
Your teen’s grades begin to drop
Grades typically ebb and flow throughout high school. Freshman and Junior years seem to be particularly difficult for teens. During freshman year, kids are adjusting to the new structure and standards of high school. Junior year is traditionally pegged as a challenging year due to the type of classes kids typically take which can include increased workloads and more difficult subject matters. However, if your child’s grades drastically and quickly change from typically good to barely passing or even failing, this might be an indication that something bigger is going on underneath the surface.
Your teen seems more moody and irritable
Most teens become moody. Remember, they are the Sour Patch Kids candy of childhood, first, they are sour, and then they’re sweet. However, there is a difference between developmentally normal moodiness and atypical moodiness. If you start to notice that your teen is moody more often than he or she is happy, seems sad often, starts showing signs of depression, or begins worrying excessively, contact a professional therapist or your pediatrician for evaluation.
Your teen could be experiencing one or multiple of these signs. This is also not a complete list of reasons your teen could benefit from therapy, just some of the most common signs. If your teen begins talking about suicide or self-harm, please seek help immediately. You can call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If you are feeling at all unsure of what could be going on with your teen, it never hurts to contact a therapist or reach out to your pediatrician for help and information.