Talking About the Tough Stuff With Your Teen

As the parent of a teenager, it’s common to worry about how your child acts when you are not around. Teenagers often act moody due to hormonal changes as they go through puberty, which may make it hard to know if you should be concerned or not. It’s important for any parent to sit down and talk to their teenager about some topics that may be difficult to address. Your teenager might be going through something other than puberty, and they need to believe they are not alone.
High Addiction Rates
Even though addiction can strike anywhere, it’s more prominent in certain cities such as Rutland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Portland. Take time to find the right facility for your teen if they have a substance abuse problem. Rehab in Portland or most any city in the country is available for those who take the time to research.
Drug and Alcohol Use
It might sound extremely difficult to talk to a teenager about drugs and alcohol but it doesn’t have to be. Your teen might not openly admit to using drugs or alcohol, but it’s important you educate them on all of the dangers associated with using them. Your child should also understand what peer-pressure is and how they can avoid giving in to it. You should make it clear to them that alcohol or drug abuse is not allowed and be sure to tell them the consequences they face if they decide to use them. If your teenager already has a problem, don’t ignore it; instead, focus on helping them recover.
Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are serious and can cause life-threatening health problems. The two most common are anorexia and bulimia and both cause changes in your teen’s eating habits. Many factors can cause eating disorders like distress, low self-esteem, psychiatric problems, substance abuse, and the fear of becoming overweight. Symptoms of an eating disorder include:
  • Strange eating habits
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Infrequent or stopped menstruation
  • Dieting even when very thin
  • Abusing laxatives
  • Eating in secret
  • Spending time in bathroom after eating
In one out of ten cases, anorexia is fatal. Take time to be there for your teen and talk to them about the serious dangers associated with eating disorders.
Mental Health Issues and Self-Harming
It may seem hard to figure out if your teenager is acting like a typical teenager or if they actually have a problem. Mental health problems come in many forms such as depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Common signs of a mental health problem include:
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Decrease in enjoyment
  • Dangerous behavior
  • Problems with memory and/or concentration
  • Changes in energy level
  • Frequent aggression
Self-harming is another issue that you need to look out for. Parents should look out for small, linear cuts, mood changes, and unexplained cuts and scratches. If you suspect your teen has a mental health problem, talk to them and get them the help they need.
Sexual Activity
All teenagers need to be educated about sex by their parents and not just school. Be honest with them about it and be sure to take time to answer any questions they have regarding it. Don’t just list a bunch of facts for them; instead, talk to them about their point of view regarding the matter.
Spend time observing your teenager’s behavior and don’t ignore any problem they might have. Be there for them and give them options for getting help if that becomes necessary. Always listen to your teen before acting and let them know their voice matters. Being a teenager can be difficult, so make sure your teen knows you love and support them as much as possible.


    • Ann

      With respect, I do not see how one can make this sort of inferential leap– especially given the rather benign content of this post.

  • Tamra Phelps

    My niece is approaching the teen years & we all dread it, lol. The mood swings have hit already, I think, but she might just be in a bad mood, ha!


    Aunties can be invaluable too! When my niece was growing up, any topics/questions that she felt too embarrassed to talk to her Mum about came my way and, with my psychology background specialising in eating disorders (been down that road myself) and addictions, I hope I gave R. open and honest advice.

  • michele soyer

    I had a son who had substance problems and wound up in rehab… I can say it was an eye opening thing for me.. Educating children and their parents about all kinds of addicitons is so very important.. Thank you for this post

  • Ann

    Partly because this was my area of expertise for many many years (I was a psychotherapist / clinical psych), and in part because I tend to type/write A LOT, I could go in any number of directions with this. But I will try to keep this brief….-ish.
    First, THANK YOU for posting this. Second, I’ll add just two quick points:
    1) It can be very helpful to check in with other adults in the child/teen’s life– e.g., teachers, coaches.
    2) Whenever I worked with children or teens in therapy, family systems were ALWAYS involved. Always. Schools, too. I personally don’t take on a family-systems theoretical orientation / approach to psychotherapy, but I’ve found that it’s essentially unavoidable when working with kids/teens. Working with a 5-year-old meant working with his or her parents.
    So, there’s my two cents.
    Unemployed Ann, MSW, MA, PsyD …..who actually should and wants to be a writer or something of that ilk.

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