How do you actually assess problematic behavior in teens? After all, typical teen behavior is often anything but “normal,” as they are so often ready to test and stretch the boundaries of their increasing independence (we understand if parents are nodding along right now).
In light of that, and in the context of a major transition back to class after a year of remote or hybrid learning, there are still ways we can begin to separate typical adolescent behavior from one that may need help.
One key thing to look for is sudden, drastic changes in behavior over a month or two. Parents may notice big changes in eating habits, sleeping patterns, grooming and hygiene, or friend groups. They may see their adolescent isolating more and becoming (even) more reluctant to wake up. Teachers may see a sudden drop in attendance and homework completion. And all adults may find the teen suddenly much more oppositional and detached, with frequent excuses for missing school.
Communication is key here. Parents and teachers alike should establish an open relationship and check in as needed, letting the adolescent know that it’s okay to talk about their emotions, struggles, anxieties, fears—and if necessary, even their alcohol or substance use. If alcohol or other substances are found, the adult should assess more and get to the root and scope of the underlying issue. Have early conversation, not early conclusions—or kids can easily shut down.
If needed, the experts at Rosecrance can assess for possible treatments and provide early intervention programming to help get to the underlying causes of problematic behavior and substance use.
If an adolescent or teen you know is experiencing any mental health or substance use issues due to the in-person return to school, check out episode two of series two of the Rosecrance podcast “On Your Radar,” which covers normal adolescent behavior vs. problematic adolescent behavior in students as they re-adjust to in-person learning this year.
Download “On Your Radar: Normal Adolescent Behavior vs. Problematic Behavior ” series 2 episode 2, HERE.