As a parent, it can be difficult to determine when adolescent behavior issues cross the line from typical teen challenges to symptoms of a behavioral disorder.
For example, just about every adolescent will have temporary periods of dark moods, withdrawal, or opposition. But when these and other behaviors persist, or become so severe that they interfere with the young person’s healthy development, they may be symptoms of a behavioral health disorder or a similar problem.
Signs Your Child Is Struggling
The following are common symptoms that may indicate an adolescent is struggling with more than a developmental phase or typical teen angst:
- Seems unable to concentrate or focus
- Fails to follow directions or follow through on projects
- Is easily distracted
- Defies rules or requests from authority figures
- Blames others for their own mistakes or problems
- Deliberately annoys or agitates others
- Rarely engages with or responds to others
- Experiences periods of unexplained irritability, fear, or sadness
- Washes hands over and over again, repeats words, or engages in other obsessive behaviors
- Cuts or burns skin, pulls out hair, or otherwise causes intentional self-injury
Some of the symptoms listed above (such as self-harm) are obvious signs that an adolescent is in crisis. Others may be problematic only due to their intensity or duration, or the distress that they cause.
Determining whether or not a behavior is symptomatic of a disorder can be quite the challenge. If you have any concerns that your child may be in crisis, get a thorough assessment from a qualified healthcare provider.
About Behavioral Disorders
The following disorders are associated with problematic or otherwise unacceptable behaviors:
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – Common symptoms include problems with focus and concentration, as well as struggles with impulse control.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – This disorder typically involves intrusive and unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Some adolescents with OCD only have obsessions, others only have compulsions, and some experience both.
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) – Young people who have ODD tend to be angry, argumentative, and irritable. They may refuse to follow the guidance of authority figures, blame others for problems, and be vindictive.
- Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) – Adolescents who struggle with RAD may not seek comfort when distressed, may not respond to offers of comfort, and may fail to engage socially or emotionally with others.
- Self-harm – Unlike the others on this list, self-harm is not a disorder. It may be a symptom of another disorder, or it may occur in response to overwhelming stress or pressure, low self-esteem, or another cause.
Young people who are suffering from one of the disorders or behavioral issues discussed on this page can benefit from effective professional treatment. Getting appropriate care for your child now can prevent ongoing harm and promote positive development.
How We Can Help
Depending upon the nature and severity of your child’s behavioral issues, professional treatment may be your best option.
At Youth Care Treatment Center, your child will receive comprehensive care, personalized according to their unique needs. Throughout the process, you will remain in close contact with your son or daughter and with the members of their treatment team.
Among the many advantages of healing at Youth Care is that your child can step away from the stresses, pressures, and distractions of daily life. At our treatment center in Draper, Utah, your son or daughter will work with compassionate professionals in a supportive atmosphere.
Our specialized programming can help your child make positive behavioral changes, develop more effective coping skills, and function in a healthier manner – both independently and within groups.
By identifying the root causes of your child’s behavioral issues, and working with you to implement focused solutions, we can get your child back on the path towards a healthier and more satisfying future.