Signs of a Troubled Teen – what you should be looking out for?

troubled teen help


What are the signs to look for in your child’s behaviour that they are troubled and need help?


  • Your child becomes more secretive, and it seems like more than a desire for greater privacy.
  • Your teen has regular, sudden outbursts of anger that are clearly unreasonable and out of proportion to whatever has caused the anger.
  • Your teen regularly misses curfew, does not show up when expected, and lies about his or her whereabouts (is not where you expected them to be if you check up on them)
  • Your teenager has suddenly changed his or her peer group and hasn’t made an effort to let you meet these new friends. The new group has led to a distinct change in appearance (clothing, jewellery) and change in attitude (more sullen, defiant, hostile).
  • Your adolescent has stolen money from your purse on regular occasions.
  • Your adolescent has extreme mood swings, from depression to elation, and seems to sleep a lot more than usual.
  • Your child’s grades have suddenly dropped and the child has lost interest in their normal activities.

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Of course, the first thing that you should be doing is to try and talk to your teen, to understand what is going on and how you can best guide them. However we know how difficult it can be for a teen to open up to their parents about troubles they are experiencing and so contacting a school counsellor or healthcare professional would be next advisable step. If you feel as though you’ve tried everything or you don’t want to wait while the situation gets worse then it could be the right time to look into the various troubled teen programs available.

Many parents worry that their troubled teen may be using drugs or alcohol

Specific Signs of Addiction;

  • Hidden stashes of alcohol
  • Alcohol missing from your supply
  • Hangovers
  • Sick more often
  • Money missing
  • Valuables missing
  • Child “disappears” for long periods
  • Running Away
  • Makes phone calls to beepers
  • Secretive phone calls
  • Unusual containers, wrappers
  • Reports of intoxication at school
  • Desperation/withdrawal
  • Other drug-seeking behaviour
  • Prescription medicine missing

troubled teen drinking alcohol

If your child is already using drugs and alcohol, intervention needs to be more dramatic than a conversation or new rules. Teens who are experimenting will need more supervision and stronger parental controls to keep them from getting deeper into the use of drugs and alcohol. Setting curfews, asking them to check in, checking out parties with the hosting parents before you child attends, and other actions will help you keep tabs on your child’s behaviour. There should be zero tolerance for some especially risky behaviours. If your child appears to be out of control and is clearly using drugs and alcohol to his or her detriment, parents must act quickly before it gets worse. Grounding your child will not be enough. Parents should seek professional interventions for any teenager who appears to have developed a problem with drugs or alcohol. It may be time to consider teen boot camps, wilderness therapy or other troubled teen programs.

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