Every parent is concerned about the physical fitness of their teens. By the time a child enters adolescence, physical challenges will be fairly obvious. You can see if they are overweight, or too thin, or inactive, or physically weak for their age and stature. You know if they have a problem with their vision, hearing, or speech. Once you observe these problems, you immediately act to do something about it. You also know when you are having physical problems that will affect your ability to parent your teens. Physical challenges receive quick and decisive action.
But what about the mental health of you and your teen? Are you as familiar with the early warning signs? Do you know when things have become problematic? If you do suspect a problem, do you know what you should do to address it? One of the first things you will need to know is how to find the right therapist. A lot will depend on whether the therapist is for you, or your child, or both. You will need to learn what type of therapy to try. There are many variables that you can navigate with just a little research. Before finding that therapist, you need to know what situations call for one. Here are a few suggestions:
A Lack of Confidence
Sooner or later, all teens and parents will suffer from a lack of confidence. Life offers a lot of situations with no clear way to know the best path forward. As a parent, you can help your teen grow her confidence. There is a point where lack of confidence could indicate a more serious mental health issue. Ask yourself the following:
Does she rely on others to make all her decisions?
Does she often end up doing nothing because of analysis paralysis?
Does she not trust herself due to self-loathing?
Does she show signs of anxiety whenever she has to make a decision?
It is important to become familiar with symptoms of anxiety. There are often visible signs like flop sweats, shivering for no reason, and emotional outbursts that seem out of place for the situation. Untreated anxiety can lead to deadly results. This is true for both parents and teens. An unusually low confidence level could be an early warning sign of a more serious, underlying issue.
The Inability to Make Friends
Humans are social creatures. To be antisocial is to be anti-human. No matter how much one likes their solitude, at some time and in some way, they need other people in their lives. If your teen has no friends, that is a problem. Teens, especially today’s teens, run in packs. Even the ones who dye their hair purple and tattoo every exposable inch of their body are a part of a pack. They are engaging in the illusion of independence and free thought.
That illusion tends to vanish when it is time for them to find a life partner, pursue a formal education, and get a job. If they truly cannot make friends among their peers, they will have a hard time accomplishing any of those highly social tasks. There could be underlying issues blocking their ability to make friends and adapt to social situations. If your teen persistently fails to make normal, social connections, consider a psychological evaluation. They are a social creature whether or not they know it.
Lack of Emotional Reaction
In the same way that we are social creatures, we are also passionate creatures. We have advanced emotional structures that compel us to react to certain things in certain ways involuntarily. Even the most reserved person cannot help but respond to stimuli. One should react emotionally to things that are frightening, or beautiful, or funny, or dangerous. If you find that your teen never has an outburst of emotion in situations where such outbursts are expected, this could be a sign of an underlying issue.
The best way to maintain good mental health is to know what it looks like, and take action when you see signs that things are not normal. Lack of confidence, the inability to make friends, and the lack of appropriate emotional responses are warning signs that corrective action might be needed.