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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

What causes a teenager to give in to peer pressure or make poor choices that could potentially ruin their future? Is your teen headed toward a similar fate? Here are four key warning signs that your teenager could be headed in the wrong direction:

1. Isolation from the Rest of the Family

If your once outgoing, bubbly, social teenager starts spending a great deal of time locked away in his or her room and tries to stay isolated from everyone else – consider this a red flag that something negative may be going on with them. Do they continue to withdraw from family gatherings and events? As parents, it’s your job to figure out why they’re behaving this way and try to help.

2. Extreme Mood Swings

Is your teen fun and friendly one minute, then rude and angry the next? This may be more than simple growing pains. They could be hanging around a bad crowd, or experiencing extreme changes within themselves – socially, neurologically, or hormonally. Don’t ignore these changes since your child will likely become even more rebellious and difficult. Try to help them now. And remember, it’s never too late.

3. Physical Domestic Altercations

Is your teen verbally threatening you? Or worse, getting physically aggressive with you? Both of these are unacceptable. If your teen is breaking things or getting violent, it can be dangerous to try and stop them in the heat of the moment. Keep your other children and yourself safe for the time being. This is not only a sign they may be headed in the wrong direction, but also indicates they are losing the ability to see how their choices connect to consequences. If this type of thing is happening in the home, it could be happening outside the home as well. Talking to someone like Mackay & Company that deals with teens, domestic assaults, and things that happen as a result of teens being troubled, might be a good idea.

4. Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Quite often, teens begin experimenting with alcohol and drugs long before the parents ever find out. If you think your teen is abusing alcohol and drugs, there are certain signs that will clearly indicate it:

  • Can you smell alcohol or marijuana on them?
  • Are their eyes bloodshot and their whole demeanor changed?
  • Do they tell lies, try to cover up their hangover, or skip school?
  • Are they hanging around other teens that you know abuse drugs and alcohol?

Other Warning Signs

There are many other signs your teen may be in trouble such as a lack of interest in their favorite hobbies or sports, lack of gratitude for family values, using slang or street language, or declining grades.  As a parent, it’s important not to be in denial or kid yourself that these things aren’t real. Anyone’s teen can get into trouble. Let your teen know the consequences for their behavior and always follow through on the values you believe in.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents concerned about their teenage children.