As parents or caretakers, we are sure you are aware of the fine line we walk when it comes to giving our children an adequate amount of space versus monitoring their lives too closely. We often fear that if we veer too far off in either direction we risk losing connection with our child. The truth is that, while it is a fine line, there are ways to determine whether you need to intervene in your daughter’s life and potentially even seek help for her.
Now that we are adults and have made it through those interesting and confusing times we call adolescence, let’s look back at our own behaviors. Did you ever do anything that in retrospect you wouldn’t have done knowing what you know now? Most of us would say yes to that. Testing out behaviors and, yes, sometimes making poor choices is a way of navigating the world and finding ourselves in our teenage years. It’s natural. In fact, It’s biological.
The truth is that your child’s brain isn’t even fully developed until her mid to late 20s, which means neither was ours. You can cut yourself some slack for some of those embarrassing behaviors in your youth. However, there is a big difference between “normal” quirky teenage behavior and potentially dangerous teenage behaviors. It is crucial that you learn to spot the more dangerous ones before they spiral out of control.
Understanding the Biology Behind Adolescent Behaviors
The brain is a magical organ. Scientists discover more about it every day. And though we are still learning about the developing brain, there is consensus on a few factors.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “Though the brain may be done growing in size, it does not finish developing and maturing until the mid-to-late 20s. The front part of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex, is one of the last brain regions to mature.”
The Cause of Risky Behaviors
This is an important factor because, as HHS states, the prefrontal cortex “is responsible for skills like planning, prioritizing, and controlling impulses. Because these skills are still developing, teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors without considering the potential results of their decisions.”
This biological reality presents us parents and caretakers with a conundrum. Even though our children are more likely to engage in risky behavior, does that make that risky behavior any less dangerous? Of course not! This is why distinguishing normal behaviors from continuing dangerous behaviors is so critical.
Differentiating “Normal” Behaviors From Dangerous Behaviors
There is a reason “normal” is in quotations here. We at Clearview Girls Academy do not believe there is such a thing as “normal.” We also don’t believe there is such a thing as a bad child. We do not see “abnormal” or “bad” children looking to do harm. We see troubled and confused children looking to find healing.
So now comes the somewhat tricky part. What exactly are the dangerous behaviors you should look out for in your daughter? It is tricky because there are many of them. However, there are two things to take into account. Are many of these behaviors present at the same time, and are they reoccurring behaviors? If the answer is yes then it might be time to seek help.
These are just some of the behaviors (but certainly not all) to be on the lookout for with your daughter:
- Showing no remorse or care regarding their actions
- Exhibiting a pattern of lying and being deceitful
- Showing a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Acting out sexually
- Experimenting with drinking and/or dangerous substances
- Discussing self-harm or actually performing self-harm
- Discussing suicide or making suicide attempts
As you can see, some of these symptoms are significant and are clearly cause for concern. For a more complete list please see our risk-level checklist on our website.
Understanding and Treating the Underlying Causes of Dangerous Behaviors for Long-Term Success
It is important to remember that the concerning behaviors that you are seeing in your daughter are most often a symptom of deeper underlying issues. This is why getting professional help from people that can detect and treat these deeper issues can be vital. Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we take an individualized approach to all of our students. This of course takes into account any risky behaviors they exhibit when they come to our facility.
First off, we don’t try to stymie the emotions that often lie at the root of those behaviors. As long as your daughter is not endangering herself or others, we want her to express herself to the fullest. “Getting messy,” we call it. Second, we use this openness to create a trusting and honest relationship with our students so we can customize the type of behavioral help they need.
Proverbs 22:6 tells us “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” That is what we aim to do here. If you feel your child is veering away from the way she should go, we can help get her on the right path to recovery.
It is nothing new that teenagers often engage in peculiar behavior. This can be a big part of growing up and finding a personal identity. However, when this behavior slides into the realm of risky, destructive, and detrimental behavior, it can become time to take note and take action. It is important to understand that from a biological standpoint, the adolescent brain is not fully developed. Because of this, certain behaviors are often inevitable. However, it is important to be able to recognize what differentiates “normal” teenage behavior from concerning teenage behavior. Being able to do so can greatly increase the chances of getting the help your child may need. Call Clearview Girls Academy at (888) 796-5484 for more information.