Image of mom and daughter looking at computer talking about how to spot a troubled teen

Oh it’s just a phase. They’ll grow out of it is a phrase that many parents of teens often find themselves repeating.

But how can you tell the difference between growing pains and warning signs that your teen is in trouble?

Teens are very different from adults. But it goes beyond the way they dress and how many times a day they check their Instagram account. They have a different thought process, behavioral patterns, and even their own language. While they may come off as secretive and reluctant,
they can actually say a lot without saying anything. Experts encourage you to consider the following when interacting with your teen:

Pay close attention.

Many parents have no idea what their teen is up to. You need to become familiar with who their friends are and what they do in their free time.

Changes in attitude and behavior.

Is your child staying out later, changing how they dress, and talking back? While it is perfectly normal for teenagers to want to assert their independence and figure out their identity, there may be something else brewing under the surface.

Create family time.

Challenge your household to check in at least once a day. Start with simple questions like “How is your day?” and you’ll be surprised how many doors it can open.

Ask for advice on technology.

It’s no secret that teens are very tech savvy, often times more so than their parents. Ask for your teen’s help on creating a social media account or how to use a new app. It can change the dynamic of your relationship and make them feel more comfortable in talking about what may be bothering them. It is also a great way to empower your teen.

If you think your teen should talk to someone, please reach out to your pediatrician or call the Teen Health Center at St. Barnabas Hospital at 718-220-2170.

Christine Zhuang