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Many of us have not been trained to deal with our children’s problems during their turbulent teen years. Loving and understanding parents can handle many issues that arise during these years at home. But it’s very important to know when your child is in need of outside help. More serious issues that teens face may need professional assistance. Here are twelve behavioral patterns parents should watch for during their children’s teen years that may signal serious problems:

Behavioral Patterns to Watch

1. Talk of suicide of any kind. A suicidal teen may make a will, give away possessions, or say
their family would be better off if they were dead.

2. Changes in eating or sleeping habits, personality, friendships, or long periods of depression.

3. Irresponsible behavior, lying, mood swings, or poor study habits. These signs could point to drug or alcohol use.

4. Choosing new friends who you suspect could be involved in drug or alcohol use. This could be a sign your child is involved also, or is having other problems.

5. Bringing home new possessions or money that can’t be accounted for.

6. Experiencing low self-esteem and suffering from a poor self-image. This could be a sign that danger is ahead.

7. Feelings of loneliness, withdrawal, and trouble making friends. These are red flags to be concerned about.

8. Marked increase in defiance and rebellion.

9. Problems with skipping school or a sudden drop in grades.

10. Problems between family members that aren’t resolved.

11. Behavioral issues after a change in the family due to a death, divorce, or remarriage. These are times when teens suffer and need outside help. The behavioral issues are a cry for help. A pastor or professional counselor is recommended during these times.

12. Talk of leaving home and getting away from everybody and everything.

We should never allow our teens to feel that we don’t think their problems are serious. There are many tragic stories of young people committing suicide when no one noticed there were serious problems.

When discussing issues with your teen, never imply that their feelings don’t matter. They do. We should never forget that God wants to partner with us as we raise our children. Pray for your teen every day, that God will keep them from the wrong crowd and from the many temptations they are sure to encounter. Pray for wisdom to see the danger signals as they arise, and wisdom on how to deal with them. God cares about your child. He is willing to help. Don’t go it on your own. And don’t hesitate to seek outside help before a problem turns into a distaster.

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By David Snyder. Copyright © 2010 by
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