It might be hard to tell the difference between a normal teen, aloof and embarrassed by his or her parents, and a troubled teen. In this quiz, we'll examine some of the behaviors that should serve as red flags, as well as some that can be ignored.
Your former straight-A student comes home with two B's on a report card. Should you worry?
- Yes. This behavior is so unlike your teen that something must be up.
- No. You know your teen is taking harder classes, and some B's are normal.
- Not now, but you'll worry later on if the grades continue to drop.
Your teenager sleeps until 11 a.m. every morning, and stays up until 2 a.m. every night. Should you worry?
- No. Teens need extra sleep.
- Yes. This isn't normal behavior for your teen, and it's starting to interfere with social activities and school work.
- No. You'd rather have your teen asleep than terrorizing his or her siblings.
Your teen threatens to run away. Is this normal?
- Yes. Teenagers are trying to become more independent, so it's only natural they'd rebel against their parents.
- Yes. In a bad fight, both teens and parents are likely to say something they don't mean, and this is just an empty threat.
- No. Threatening to run away is not normal teenage behavior.
Your child comes home with a purple Mohawk. Should you worry?
- No. A little self-expression is normal.
- Yes. It looks horrendous and your teen will regret it later.
- Yes. When kids aren't concerned with their appearance, something is wrong.
Your daughter claims that she has no friends. Should you worry?
- Yes. It's hard for teens who aren't popular, so you should force your daughter to interact with her peers.
- No. She's just being dramatic.
- No. You'd rather she have no friends than hang around kids who are a bad influence.
You find a lighter and a handle of liquor in your teen's room. What should you do?
- Nothing. You shouldn't have been in your teen's room in the first place.
- Chalk it up to youthful experimentation and say nothing.
- Confront your teen about it.
Your daughter's friend comes to you and claims your daughter has an eating disorder. What do you do?
- Explain to your daughter's friend that all girls diet, and such behavior is normal.
- Thank the friend, and investigate her claims.
- Nothing. You haven't noticed anything, so this friend is probably making something out of nothing.
Your teen claims that his or her curfew isn't fair. What should you do?
- Change the curfew. You want your kid to see you as a trusted friend, not a stuffy parent.
- Explain why you set that curfew, and tell your teen that it stands.
- Say nothing, and look the other way when your teen comes home late. After all, it wasn't that late.
Your teen won't eat, won't leave his or her room, and based on the music you hear at 2 a.m., doesn't appear to be sleeping. Is this normal?
- Yes. That's the description of every teenager.
- It's not normal, but he or she will probably snap out of it soon.
- No. The teen may be suffering from extreme depression and should see a doctor.
What's a good first step to take when you suspect your teen is troubled?
- Wait to make sure that your teen is really troubled; you don't want to jump to conclusions.
- Send your teen to wilderness therapy or a boot camp.
- Talk to your teen, or offer to pay to have him or her talk to a counselor.