The influential ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus, once said “It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us, as the confidence of their help.” Our interest in helping each other is one of the defining characteristics of humans. However, it can be difficult to determine when offering help is the right decision. This is especially true when it comes to seeking treatment for issues of mental health. When that treatment involves our children, it’s even harder to determine what’s right.
When we think our child may be struggling with their mental health, we can feel many internal conflicts. Questions often arise, such as:
- “Isn’t this just normal teenage behavior?”
- “What if I’m wrong, and she doesn’t need help at all?”
- “Will my child hold my intervening against me?”
- “Will I lose their trust?”
While, these are all valid and natural questions, these concerns should never interfere with seeking treatment if there is a problem. However, we can all agree that it is hard to assess a problem if we do not know what a problem looks like. For this reason, it is crucial to be able to differentiate “normal” teenage behavior from potential disordered behavior.
Understanding “Normal” Adolescent Behaviors
While it may feel like a lifetime ago, many of us can remember a little bit of what it was like being a teenager. This includes all of the new experiences, the uncertainty, and the rebellion.
Exploring and rebelling are among many typical behaviors of adolescence. Healthy adolescence, including all the awkward and difficult times, is a big part of developing into a healthy adult. This phase is a major part of discovering who we are, and that should never be minimized.
Many adolescent behaviors are normal and shouldn’t cause concern. Which ones are those? Interestingly enough, these are often the same behaviors that should cause concern. The difference is the regularity and the severity. Let us explain.
Discerning “A Momentary Lapse” From Habitual Negative Behaviors
For example, you may discover that your child has become distracted and does poorly on a test. You inquire and maybe you will find a simple isolated reason. On the next test, an academic rebound happens. No problem; it happens.
Now, if this distraction continues to happen and the academics begin to seriously suffer, it may be a sign of a bigger issue. We will better explain this below.
Recognizing Detrimental Adolescent Behaviors
Sometimes it is a fine line between seemingly ordinary adolescent behavior and dangerous behavior. One of the best ways to differentiate the two is to be more observant, insistent, and interventional.
We understand that this can feel uncomfortable, but take solace in knowing that you are doing so for the best of your child. To help, below are a few of the red flags to look for when it comes to potentially harmful behavior:
- Showing a lack of remorse or care
- Excessively lying, and attempting to manipulate others
- Changes in eating habits (either too much or too little)
- Displaying excessive nervousness or anxiety
- Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Engaging in illegal activity such as vandalism and/or theft
Taking Immediate Action: More Severe Adolescent Behaviors
Those are a few red flags that should most likely be habitual (happening more than one time) to take action. However, the following behaviors are severe and should be acted upon immediately:
- Extreme weight loss, use of medication to lose weight, not eating
- Engaging in risky sexual behaviors
- Misuse of drinking and/or other substances
- Exhibiting self-harm
- Expressing suicidal thoughts, or making an attempt
Remember, we understand that discovering these behaviors can be scary and discouraging. But also remember that taking action can be a courageous and lifesaving act.
How Clearview Girls Academy Can Help
If you feel that your daughter is at risk, we are here to help. Simply reach out and we can offer the materials and specialized advice to help assess whether your daughter needs treatment. If that ends up being the case, then we are fully prepared to take the next steps to do what is best for your family.
At our recovery refuge in Montana, we have all of the treatment tools to help aid in your daughter’s recovery. We take an individualized approach to help your daughter understand why these behaviors are happening, We also have the treatment tools to course-correct these behaviors.
Remember, you are not the bad guy for getting your child treatment when they need it. You are the confidence they don’t have at the moment. You are the confidence they need. As you partner with us on your daughter’s behalf, we can light her path to recovery. One day soon, she will confidently light her path herself.
It is important to recognize the difference between “normal” adolescent behaviors and those that may constitute greater concern. When behaviors become detrimental to the health of your daughter and/or others, it is time to reach out for help. These behaviors may be the result of underlying issues pertaining to mental health. These risky behaviors may also include misusing drinks and/or substances. This is not only dangerous but can lead to disastrous consequences later in life. Yes, some questionable adolescent behavior is normal. After all, we were all kids once, so we understand. When that behavior starts interrupting your daughter’s well-being and trajectory, it may be time to seek help. For more information, call Clearview Girls Academy at (888) 796-5484.