Parenting a child is complex, and every child is difficult. So when they act out, it makes you wonder, is it just puberty? Or is there an underlying issue, and by dismissing the problem as “just puberty,” are you actually hurting your child by not helping them? Parenting does not require a degree in childhood development, and instinct cannot help you through every challenge you will face.
Knowing how to deal with the mental and physical changes your teen will experience is crucial. You need to know what is within the norm, and more importantly, what the signs are for more serious problems like depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, and so much more. You can help your child if you spot the signs early, so follow this guide.
Know What to Expect from Puberty
You might think you remember puberty, but just to be sure it’s worthwhile to read up on what to expect. You can even ask other parents that have older teens. Don’t, however, ignore gut feelings. If you don’t think your teen is just going through puberty, chances are they aren’t.
Know What the Signs of Mental Illness and Disorders Are
If you do have that gut feeling, it is worthwhile to look up mental health symptoms to watch out for. Knowing the signs can help you understand if something more serious is at hand. You cannot diagnose them, but it can give you the extra push to have them diagnosed by a professional.
Reinforce a Safe Space at Home
You don’t want to go over your child’s head in these cases. You need your home and your relationship to be a safe space. Do this by:
Encouraging them to talk about their feelings
Making it explicit you are always there in an emergency
Building a Care Regimen if Your Teen Needs It
When you know you aren’t just dealing with a puberty mood swing and instead with a serious mental health issue or disorder, then it’s time to build a care regimen.
Find a Great Care Facility
First things first, you are not going to dictate anything. You need to find a teen rehab center that can help with your child’s specific issue with a focus on therapy, group therapy, and holistic care. They will help your child on-site and then train you on what skills and tactics you should use for your specific child at home.
Work with the Care Facility
There are in-patient and out-patient options. In both, you are going to have to work with the care facility so that you can help your child heal as they go. These facilities are not somewhere that you can dump your child and expect them fixed when they come out. It is an ongoing process you will need to be a part of.
Continue Treatment at Home
The care facility will give you the tools to continue their care regimen at home. Pick these up, and don’t forget to keep your child active and talking so that you know if something needs to change in your approach. They are the ones who will dictate their recovery, so listen to them and what they are (and aren’t) saying.