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What Is (and Isn’t) Normal Teenage Behavior? What Parents Need to Know

Press Release

A group of teens looking down at their cell phonesThe teen years aren’t easy – for teens or their parents.

The angst, anger, insecurities, and peer pressure can definitely take their toll on the entire family.

Many parents think that what they’re dealing with is normal teenage behavior. But is it, really?

A lot of people have called this into question with recent violent attacks at schools, including the increased number of mass shootings at schools.

That isn’t normal adolescent behavior.

It’s important for parents to recognize what is normal and what can actually be classified as serious teen behavioral problems and identify when to get help.

Is It Normal Teenage Behavior or Not? What to Watch Out For

Boy staring down in front of a mirror

Monitoring your children for teen behavioral problems is not beyond the scope of any parent. In fact, most parents are fully aware of their child’s behavior, though they often categorize it as normal teenage behavior.

Mental illness isn’t always the first thing that pops into a parent’s mind, unless there is a family history of mental illnesses.

For many parents, when their kids start to act out or have mood swings, they often question whether their child has started experimenting with drugs or alcohol.

While this is a possibility, there’s a strong likelihood that the child is dealing with some sort of mental illness.

Even in its early stages, mental illness can feel overwhelming to teens. They feel scared and confused. And because they’ve entered adolescence, they might not be inclined to confide in their parents.

That’s why it’s up to you to monitor your child often. Knowing whether they’re displaying typical teenage behavior or not will help you know what sort of action to take.

How do you know if your child is displaying normal teenage behavior or something more serious? Here are some signs of abnormal behavior.

1. Shunning Social Activity – Even with Their Friends

It isn’t uncommon for teens to try and shut their parents out of their life. They want to be independent and they often feel misunderstood by older generations.

If your teen is experiencing this, let them know that you’re always there for them without judgment. And encourage them to socialize regularly with people of all ages.

Teens cross over into abnormal behavioral territory, though, when they start to shun all social activity.

If they refuse to leave their room even for their friends, this is a sign that your teen could be experiencing some form of mental illness.

2. Extreme Physical Symptoms

During the teen years, your child’s body is still growing and developing. Plus, it’s undergoing some strong hormonal surges.

It isn’t uncommon, then, for them to need a lot of sleep. By all means, encourage them to get the rest they need.

However, if your child seems to be doing nothing but sleeping, there could be a problem. Another issue could actually be insomnia or a form of depression.

Dietary changes should be of concern as well. Lack of appetite, reduced eating or not eating at all, and extreme fluctuations in weight are causes of concern.

These could be signs of depression or eating disorders.

3. Sadness or Anxiety That Lasts For More than a Few Weeks

We all experience sadness and anxiety from time to time. And sometimes, these feelings don’t go away within a day or two.

When feeling this way, it’s important that your teen gets plenty of exercise and has someone to talk to about how they’re feeling.

If their sadness or anxiety lasts for more than a few weeks or seems to be getting progressively worse, it could be a sign of mental illness. Your child could be developing depression or social anxiety disorder, both of which need to be treated by a professional.

4. They Start Engaging In Risky or Delinquent Behavior

It’s normal for teens to be curious and want to experiment with certain things, like sex and alcohol.

When mental illness enters the picture, their experimentation goes to extremes. They aren’t safe, they drink and drive, and they have absolutely no respect for rules or authority.

If this describes your teen, it may be time to get them some help from a professional.

5. They Start Harming Themselves or Others

Extreme anger or depression can lead to self-harm, like cutting or suicide attempts. Some mental illnesses can even lead teens to harm others, including their peers, parents, and pets.

What to Do If You’re Worried About Teen Behavioral Problems

A teenager boy being consulted

If you’re concerned that your child is displaying abnormal adolescent behavior, it’s time to get them some help.

At Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, we provide behavioral health treatment plans for people of all ages.

We have inpatient and outpatient programs for teens and adults, all of which can help treat a variety of mental health issues, including chemical dependency.

Teens deal with a lot of stress these days. They have to worry about violence at school, as well as getting good grades and dealing with peer pressure.

This can lead to overwhelming feelings of anxiety and depression. And when that happens, many teens don’t know where to turn for help.

These feelings, as well as feeling hopeless and helpless, can lead to self-harm practices, including looking for an outlet through the use of drugs and alcohol.

We can help your teen learn to deal with their feelings and find ways to healthfully express themselves.

Providing the Care Your Teen Needs: Sooner Is Better Than Later

A mom holding her daughters shoulders

Take the time to evaluate your teen’s behavior and be honest with yourself: Is this normal teen behavior or are they exhibiting major behavioral problems?

The sooner you get help for your children – the better.

Think for a second about your teen’s grades. If they suddenly started struggling in a certain class and their grades steadily dropped, what would you do?

You’d get them some help! You’d talk to their teachers, hire a tutor, and spend extra time with them yourself trying to help them understand the subject at hand.

It’s no different with behavioral and mental health issues. The sooner they’re addressed, the better. Taking action now will help your teen find some peace and feel better about themselves, their family, and life in general.

Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital treats a variety of mental health and chemical dependency issues. Contact us today to learn more about our programs specifically for adolescents.