sad teen girl
Children today are faced with new and traditional challenges. Managing your emotions as a child can be a difficult battle, especially if their role models or resources have been limited. Other children, who come from a home with loving and supportive parents, can still find it difficult to navigate though life and especially adolescence. Some children making their way through the troubling teen years test boundaries and push the limits of authority in school, at home and with peers.
Youth can act out in a variety of ways–breaking rules, behaving disrespectfully, skipping school, abusing drugs and alcohol and using violence. One act or inappropriate behavior does not mean a child’s future is bleak, but assessment and counseling can be key to keeping bad choices from becoming a pattern of bad behavior.
Parents and families of teens and pre-teens are often frustrated and don’t know what to do. Some ignore the behavior in hopes that their child will grow out of it. Others attempt corporal or harsh punishments that can push the child further into rebellion. Many parents who attempt to talk to their children find they don’t have the skills necessary to get to the issues that can make a difference in their children’s actions.
Some of the warning signs that may mean your child is having more serious problems are:
Family: deteriorating relationships with family; behavior changes, such as withdrawal or hostility
School: truancy; drop in grades; behavior problems
Social: deteriorating relationships with old friends; developing a network of friends who are using alcohol or other drugs; loss of interest in sports or other favorite activities
Emotional: basic personality changes; inexplicable and sudden mood changes; apathy
Physical Affects: memory problems, fatigue or hyper behavior; difficulty walking; sleep disturbances; red, blood-shot eyes; carelessness with grooming
Physical Evidence: disappearance of beer or liquor supply; money or valuables missing; use of cigarettes; signs of drug paraphernalia; use of incense; excess money or missing money
Legal: acts of vandalism, shoplifting, theft (keep in mind they don’t have to be arrested to be break the law
Sexual: inappropriate dress, public excessive shows of physical affection, infatuated relationships, multiple boyfriends/girlfriends.
Keep in mind that these signs can indicate a variety of issues– some more serious then others. If you observe significant changes in your child’s behavior, something is likely to be wrong and you need to talk with your child. When talking to them doesn’t curb the concerning behaviors and problems continue to arise, getting an outside opinion is mostly likely warranted.
The David Lawrence Center, Collier County’s community mental health and substance abuse treatment center, offers several affordable and flexible programs to help families navigate their way through challenging times. For many parents who are worried about their children’s behaviors, the first step should be to contact the Collier County Juvenile Assessment Center where free mental health and substance abuse assessments are available to everyone in the community. There, a counselor will meet with the child and family to provide a recommendation. These recommendations can include a referral to prevention, intervention or treatment programs based on the level and severity of the child’s presenting problems.
If caught early enough in the cycle, a prevention education program is often enough to help child get back on the right path. David Lawrence Center offers psychoeducational group therapy classes on a variety of subjects designed to address common challenges that children face today such as drug and alcohol experimentation, aggression and poor decision making.
If a child’s problems are more serious, mental health and substance abuse treatment may be necessary. David Lawrence Center provides individual counseling, family counseling, medication services, drug testing, substance abuse intervention, psychiatric residential treatment, 24-hour crisis stabilization services and other programs specially designed for children and adolescence.
The important thing for parents to understand is that help is available and there are a variety of resources in the community that can help you manage your child’s behaviors before they become a serious a problem–legal or otherwise.
Important Community Resources:
Collier County Juvenile Assessment: 239-774-3927
Collier County Juvenile Assessment 24 Hour Information
Help Line: 239-417-1966
David Lawrence Center: 239-455-8500