Perhaps it comes on suddenly or maybe you woke up one day and felt like you were in a body snatchers-type horror movie. Your child went from being sweet and happy to sulky and elusive. Or perhaps you are treated to tantrums and drama you haven’t experienced since your child was a toddler. The teenage years aren’t pretty.
Now your trouble is probably twofold. You have the immediate problem of a grumpy teenager plus the concern that there might be a serious problem. It can be difficult to know. You might watch the neighbour’s teen who still seems upbeat while yours is hiding in his or her room. The truth is you are right to be concerned. The hormones and social pressures make the teenage years difficult for most kids and problems can quickly go from annoying to life threatening. Here are ways to make sure your teen is on the right track.
Ultimately, if you have serious concerns about your child’s health or safety, you should talk to a professional. Don’t rely on teachers or others from your child’s school to identify problems and notify you. Talk to teachers to get their feedback but don’t assume they will be aware of serious issues.
You Are Not Alone
Concerns about the wellbeing of teenagers is common. Children spend much of their time outside the view of their parents. This leaves many caring parents wondering if their child has a serious issue. That’s one reason why searches for “private psychiatrist London” are so common. Other parents want a better understanding of what’s going on, just like you do. A private setting can be important in getting any necessary help while maintaining confidentiality so that your child isn’t subjected to more peer pressure.
If being grumpy or moody were serious medical issues, every teenager would need help. The difficulty is being able to tell when it is more than a passing phase. Look for other changes in behaviour. Notice if your child has lost interest in his or her usual hobbies and long-time friends. This could be a normal change as interests change or new friendships form but if it appears that your child is becoming isolated rather than moving on to new things, pay close attention. If your child is no longer doing as well in school, that can be another warning sign of trouble.
Anorexia and Bulimia
Eating disorders tend to develop during the teen years so be aware of your child’s eating patterns. Kids are amazingly good at hiding things. Does your child still eat normal-sized meals at home or are you often told he or she ate elsewhere? Have you noticed changes in your child’s weight beyond the typical variations? Is your child working out excessively, using laxatives, or avoiding many types of foods? There is nothing wrong with a child deciding to become a vegetarian but if even carrots are rejected because they “have too many calories” then there could be a serious issue.
While a distorted body image is a typical factor in an eating disorder, some behaviour can be related to teens trying to have a sense of control. They may make up rules like they can only eat food of a certain colour or only a certain number of pieces of a certain type of food. Look for strange behaviour like counting out mushrooms or other foods before eating them. Moving food around on the plate to make it seem like they’re eating is another common strategy.
People with eating disorders may consume normal amounts of food at a meal and then purge later. Binge eating is another problem to look for if you think your child might have an eating disorder. In these cases, large amounts of foods may be eaten at a single sitting.
Don’t miss part 2 of our series to learn more about the warning signs of the problems teenagers can experience. Remember to seek help if you are concerned about your child. A psychologist or psychiatrist can evaluate your child and provide assistance if needed.