A while ago I did a blog about Adult
This article will cover the following: teenager and children
TEENAGER AND CHILDREN
As many as 8.3% of teenagers in the U.S. suffer from
Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers.
As many as one in every 33 children and approximately one in 8 adolescents may have
Treatment of major
Twenty years ago
The statistics on teen
What is even more chilling is that of all these children and teens struggling with emotional and behavioral problems, a mere 30% receive any sort of intervention or treatment. The other 70% simply struggle through the pain of mental illness or emotional turmoil, doing their best to make it to adulthood. Many theorize that this is why the suicide rate in teens is so high. Suicide is the third (3rd) leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24. Even more troubling, it is the sixth (6th) leading cause of death among children ages 5-14.
The consequences of untreated
increased incidence of
involvement in the criminal justice system;
or in some cases, suicide.
WHAT ARE THE TEEN/CHILDREN
As we see above, treatment (i.e., counseling, therapy, or even medical intervention, if needed) for
As you read through this list, remember that your teen/child has to have “a siginficant” number of these symptoms; they have to be ongoing, out of character; and impair the teen’s/child’s normal daily activities (sound familiar?)
1) Snapping at people for no apparent reason – being irritable at everyone.
2) Physically or verbally aggressive at everyone.
3) Abandoning favorite hobbies or sports or other routine, daily activities.
4) Increased passive TV watching (where the teen/child has that “thousand yard stare” and is not interacting with the programs).
5) Increased risk-taking; e.g., dangerous driving; climbing too high in a tree and jumping, breaking something; other repeated unusually dangerous activities.
6) Misuse of drugs and alcohol. Particularly teens, who use drugs and alcohol to “escape”. (1)
7) Changes in school behaviors (including training courses and work settings) for teens; changes in interpersonal behaviors and activities in a pre-school setting (i.e., used to like to color and play with clay; now just sits in a corner, holding a stuffed toy and sucking a thumb).
8) Frequent absences from school; poorer grades than formerly attained; increase in skipping classes; etc. For a child, reversion in activities (i.e., used to color within the lines, now just scribbling on paper; intentionally breaking things, etc.)
9) Complains of being bored (teen); a child whose attention waivers when it didn’t before. A child who, during a group reading, who used to sit and listen, now gets up and wanders around.
10) Becomes disruptive in class (both teens and children).
11) Finds it harder to stay on task. Loses concentration easily; is
mentally confused. Finds decisions difficult to make. In a child this might look like the following: unable to match blocks by color when s/he could before; unable to choose between playing ball and jumping rope when the child ALWAYS choose playing ball before. You can think of your own examples, I’m sure.
12) Cannot remember commitments – doesn’t keep appointments (teen). As a child, forgets to bring papers home when s/he ALWAYS used to do so; forgets home address/telephone number when s/he has known them for months/years; etc.
13) Has difficulty staying still or conversely, is lethargic (sluggish). This would apply to both a teen and a child. You can picture, in your mind, the teen or child in constant motion; twitching, shaking a foot, or both feet; handling things; etc. OR, the teen or child who sits or lays with that thousand yard stare again. AND, again, this is unusual behavior for your teen or child.
14) Changes in relationships with family and friends. Usually, this change manifests itself in hostility, or in passivity. Arguing when s/he didn’t before; or, using the “whatever” answer, when s/he used to talk to you. (Again, don’t single this one symptom out; it must be one of many symptoms that your teen or child has.)
15) Stops going out with friends; shows no interest in group outings.
16) Increase or decrease in sexual activity (hopefully, an OLDER TEEN).
17) May start associating with a different peer group (that “bad influence” group as a teen; the “rowdy” kids as a child).
18) Loses interest in activities which once were fun.
19) More conflicts with parents and siblings than usual.
20) Changes in eating and sleeping habits.
21) Expresses inappropriate guilt, feelings of not being good enough, worthlessness, failure. (I can see this in a teen; not sure how this would look in a child. If you can, please let us know.)
22) Expresses hopelessness and having nothing to look forward to.
23) Speaks in a monotonous or monosyllabic manner.
24) Has a preoccupation with self; is withdrawn.
25) Cries easily, looks sad, feels alone or isolated.
26) Has fears about having to be perfect.
27) Fearful of doing something bad. This, in a child, could manifest itself as bedwetting after YEARS of not bedwetting; fear of darkness or “things that go bump in the night” after YEARS of no fear, etc.
28) Incidents of self-injury. Ideas of killing self. (I have no idea of how this would look for a child, and hope never to have such an idea!)
WHAT A PARENT/GUARDIAN CAN DO
The two most important things a parent can do for your child/teen is to first, KNOW YOUR TEEN/CHILD’S ROUTINE, AND NORMAL DAILY ACTIVITIES so that you can identify any changes; and, LISTEN:
1) listen when your children talk;
2) listen to their music;
3) spend more time with them and be involved in their activities;
4) take them to movies and concerts, and discuss them afterward;
5) know their friends, and listen to them, as well;
6) do not lecture or offer unsolicited advice, or ultimatums; and,
7) do not try to talk them out of their feelings; instead, ask them if they can describe their feelings.
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, learn the above symptoms and know your teen/child. Here are some more things that you, the parent or guardian can do.
8) If a child, go to their day care periodically, and lern their routine; ask the teachers to alert you if their routine changes.
9) If a teen, go to ALL of your teen’s teacher conferences to learn the patterns of the normal school day, and ask to be alerted immediately to changes.
10) For both teens and children, know their friends; see if your home can become the “gathering place”; get to know the parents of your child’s or teen’s friends and agree to let each other know if you see any changes in behavior.
11) In all cases, keep a diary of any changes that you see, so that you will be able to discuss the situation with great clarity and specificity with professionals, should the need arise.
12) Respond with love, kindness, and support if you think that your child/teen is experiencing problems that can lead to
13) Let your child or teen know that you are there, whenever she or he needs you, and do so often and in age-specific (as Dr. Phil would say) ways.
14) Keep trying, but gently, if your teen shuts you out (depressed teenagers do not want to feel patronized or crowded).
15) Do not criticize or pass judgment, once the child or teen begins to talk (the important thing is that he or she is talking and communicating feelings). REMEMBER, NEVER CRITICIZE FEELINGS; everyone has the right to their feelings, even if you think that they are “wrong”. Let them be voiced; if inapproptiate, seek professional assistance.
16) Encourage activity and praise efforts.
17) Seek help from a doctor or mental health professional, if the teen’s or child’s depressed feeling doesn’t pass with time (be prepared to list behaviors, note how long and how often they have been occurring, and how severe they seem – hence, the diary mentioned above).
18) Do not wait and hope that symptoms will go away on their own. Better to seek assistance and be told that your teen/child is fine than to let your teen/child become one of the 70% who never receive help.
20) Parents of depressed adolescents may themselves need support. Seek out groups of parents who have experience with teen
Footnote (1): What some of my friends and I did with alcohol when we had teenagers; we kept a “mark” (usually hidden so the teens couldn’t see it on the bottle) that changed each time we used the bottle. In this way, we could know immediately if the teens were drinking, and could deal with the situation.