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Differentiating Normal Teenage Behavior From Concerning Behavior

Teenagers are a difficult group to read. From peer pressure to an influx in hormone levels, all odd or altered behavior isn't necessarily a cause for concern. However, there is a threshold by which everyday teen behavior becomes troublesome. Learn more about this distinction.

Reluctance vs. Refusal

Teenagers are not always the most cooperative group, in that they often want to do things their way. There is nothing wrong with this behavior, but it does become a problem when the child outright refuses to take orders. Consider chores, for example. It's normal for a teen to procrastinate and maybe even offer some pushback about doing the task.

However, it's concerning when a child says they are not going to do the assigned tasks — and they don't. This distinction signals there is some underlying concern that is prompting this behavior, such as depression or even drug use that is changing their attitude.  

Independence vs. Isolation

Again, teenage years are all about starting the journey of self-discovery, and a large part of the process involves being independent which can involve spending time alone and with their peers. However, when your teen wants to spend more time away from the family than they do with them, it is a cause for concern.

Your child could be hanging around poor influences or engaging in activities that they want to keep hidden from you, which is driving their desire to stay separated. Your child should have independence, but the core of their time should be spent with the family.

Experimentation vs. Risk-Taking

Along the journey of self-discovery, your teen will experiment. For parents, this experimentation seems scary, but it's a necessary part of the journey. Healthy forms of experimentation might include going on dates or staying out a little past curfew.

However, risky behavior would involve being sexually active with multiple partners and completely disregarding the curfew and staying out all night. Teens take risks for many reasons, including depression, substance abuse, and other behavioral concerns.

Cause for Concern

If your child has made the leap from safe to unsafe behavior, it is important to seek professional help. The teenage years are a formative period, and the poor choices your child makes now have the ability to cause lifelong consequences. Seek help to ensure your child is protected.

Make sure you watch your child closely and seek help whenever you deem it necessary. Reach out to a provider of troubled youth treatments for more information.