Is my teen ‘normal’ crazy or seriously troubled?

Is my teen ‘normal’ crazy or seriously troubled?

photo8A high percentage of teenagers go through a rebellious or crazy phase that is normal for their age and brain development. The difference between normal teen crazy and truly troubled behavior is when the teenager falls behind his or her peers in multiple key areas.  At a bare minimum, a normal teen should be able to do the following:

  • Attend school and do most school work if they want to;
  • Have and keep a friend or friends their own age who also attend school;
  • Have a maturity level roughly the same as his or her peers;
  • Exercise self-control when he or she wants to;
  • Have basic survival instincts and avoid doing serious harm to themselves, others, or property.

photo5It is normal for teens to be inconsistent, irrational, insensitive to others, self-centered, and childish.  Screaming or swearing is normal–regard this the same as a toddler temper tantrum.  It is a phase that crazy teens grow out of unless something else is holding them back.

This is your challenge:  Troubled teens with mental disorders have the same challenging behaviors as ‘normal’ teens… which is to say, sometimes it’s just obnoxious, but not serious.  How do you tell which is which so you can get help?  Look for pervasive patterns of social and behavioral problems that stand out against their peers, which are persistent, and which occur in different settings.  The patterns repeat themselves, and you fear they will become increasingly worse.  You sense your troubled teen cannot control themselves if they tried.

photo2

Some signs of abnormal unsafe* behavior

*Unsafe” means:  there’s a danger of harm to themselves or others, property loss or damage, running away, seeking experiences with significant risk (or easily lured into them), abusing substances, and physical or emotional abuse of others.

  • If a troubled teenager does something unsafe to themselves or others, it is not an experiment, but is impulsive, intentional, and planned.
  • They have a history of intentional unsafe activities.
  • They have or seek the means to do unsafe activities.
  • They talk about or threaten unsafe behavior.
  • There are others who believe there is something abnormal or unsafe about your child.  (e.g., your child’s friend comes forward, their teacher calls, other parents keep their children from your child, or someone checks to see if you’re aware of the nature of his or her behaviors).


photo7How psychologists measure the severity of a child’s behavior 

“Normal” is defined with textual descriptions of behaviors, and these are placed on a spectrum from normal to abnormal (“severe emotional disturbance”).  Below are a few examples of a range of behaviors in different settings.  These descriptions are generalizations and should not be used to predict your child’s treatment needs, but they do offer insight into severity and the need for mental health treatment.

School behaviors

Not serious – This child has occasional problems with a teacher or classmate that are eventually worked out, and usually don’t happen again.

Mildly serious – This child often disobeys school rules but doesn’t harm anyone or property.  Compared to their classmates, they are troublesome or concerning, but not unusually badly behaved.  They are intelligent, but don’t work hard enough to have better grades.

Serious – This child disobeys rules repeatedly, or skips school, or is known to disobey rules outside of school.  They stand out in the crowd as having chronic behavior problems compared to other students and their grades are always poor.

Very serious – This child cannot be in school or they are dangerous in school.  They cannot follow rules or function, even in a special classroom, or they may threaten or hurt others or damage property.  It is feared they will have a difficult future, perhaps ending up in jail or having lifetime problems.

photo6Home behaviors

Not serious – This child is well-behaved most of the time but has occasional problems, which are usually worked out.

Mildly serious – This child has to be watched and reminded often, and needs pushing to follow rules or do chores or homework.  They don’t seem to learn their lessons and are endlessly frustrating.  They can be defiant or manipulative, but their actions aren’t serious enough to merit a strong response.

Serious – This child does not want to follow rules, even reasonable rules.  They take no responsibility for their behavior, which can damage to the home or property, or cause harm to themselves or others.  They bring everyone down.

Very serious – The stress caused by this child means the family cannot manage normally at home even if they work together.  Running away, damaging property, threats of suicide or violence to others, and other behaviors require daily sacrifices from all.  Police are commonly called.

photo9Relationship behaviors

Not serious – The child has and keeps friends their own age, and has healthy friendships with people of different ages, such as with a grandparent or younger neighbor.

Mildly serious – This immature child will argue, tease, bully or harass others, and most schoolmates avoid them. They are quick to have temper tantrums and childish responses to stress that make them “high maintenance.”

Serious – The child has no friends their age, or risky friends, and is manipulative or threatening. They can have violent tendencies, poor judgment, and take dangerous risks with themselves and others.  They don’t care about others’ feelings, and readily harm others physically or emotionally.

Very serious – The child’s behavior is so aggressive verbally or physically that they are almost always overwhelming to be around.  The behaviors are repeated and deliberate, and can lead to verbal or physical violence against others or themselves.

photo1If your child’s behavior falls along the spectrum encompassing Serious to Very Serious behavior, get good mental health treatment for them now and spare them a difficult future.

Pay attention to your gut feelings.

If you’ve been searching for answers and selected this article to read, your suspicions are probably true.  Most parents have good intuition about their child.  If you’re looking for ways to “fix” or change your child… all I can say is that this approach will probably not work.  You may need to work on yourself; you may need to change how you relate to your child or picture your situation.  Regardless, seek help.

photo4Early treatment, while your troubled teenager is young, can prevent a lifetime of problems.  Find a professional who will take time to get to know your child and you and the situation, and who will listen to what you have to say–a teacher, doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist.

–Margaret

Your comments are welcome.

 

–Margaret

24 Replies to “Is my teen ‘normal’ crazy or seriously troubled?”

  1. Thank you so much for your comment… it has made things clearer. However you have mentioned about searching his room when he’s not there, he’s always here!! He doesn’t go anywhere. I wish he would. He has no friends like he use to.

    I would love him to get some help, medically, but he refuses it. I don’t know how to get the ball rolling. At the moment his aunt is trying to help him apply for jobs… and to claim benefits.

    But if he isn’t in the right frame of mind, is this a good idea? The thing is, he isn’t stupid, he has a good head on his shoulders. But right now he has to be guided every step of the way with things.

    I have mentioned it to my gp before, and he said my son has to come into the surgery himself. I wish he would do a home-visit.

    I’m now not looking forward to bed time, as my son is up most of the night, while we’re in bed!

    1. It’s common for people to refuse help, and extremely frustrating for families because they know their child needs it but they can’t force them to go. Sadly, it can take a crisis to finally get them help. I know of troubled children who had to commit a crime before they received psychiatric care or hospitalization… and they were the lucky ones. Too often someone with mental illness ends up in jail. I know about children who got help because they attempted suicide, assaulted someone, or had such extreme behavior in public that bystanders were afraid and called the police. In these cases, it was obviously a mental health problem and not criminal behavior.

      The one thing that helped me most was a book by Xavier Amador titled “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help – How to Help Someone Accept Mental Health Treatment.” The basic messages:

      1) A troubled child is completely unaware they are behaving differently than others, so telling them they’re sick makes no sense.

      2) Trust is everything. Because they think parents are trying to control them or their lives, and not making sense to them, they don’t trust the very people who can help them.

      3) Developing trust means asking them what they want, and agreeing to those things that aren’t important, and agreeing to those things that are the most important for them. A parent should only hold the line on a few critical things. In your case, absolutely no marijuana, but he can stay in his room. Ask his opinion. For example, he may refuse treatment, so you agree that only if he’s ‘appropriate’ (safe, clean, respectful, not harmful to himself or others) you will support him not getting treatment. Again, this may not make sense, but it builds trust.

      It’s good that his aunt is seeking benefits. He may not be able to hold a job if he’s not being treated. Guiding him every step of the way is what you do. That’s common for all young people with mental health problems. Just do it because it will work. He doesn’t have the capacity to manage much on his own. But this can change over time, so be patient.

      Take care.

      1. I’m so sorry to be a nuisance… I appreciate your advice, it’s going to be a very long, hard road! But your advice will certainly help. I meant to ask you about hygiene… my son is sleeping in his clothes! On top of the bed, I have said to him that he needs to wash, he says he will. But then he goes to sleep again, in his clothes, and the cycle starts again.

        He is starting to smell. Also his room. I’m a Christian, and keep asking God… why is this happening to us… to him

        1. This is a great question, and the answer should help build an important relationship with your son. It’s also the start of self-care for you.

          He can’t do what you ask or he would have already. He is basically incapacitated. This exact thing happened with my child (and I mean exact thing). Try this. Do all the laundry yourself, as you would if he had a flu. But first, tell him you’re going to do this, and ask him the best time, or catch him when he’s alert enough to change his clothes (if he agrees). Ask him to let you in his room, and you take it from there. Wash everything. Also, get one of those spray odor removers (best without a scent) and spray his whole room.

          Why be a maid to a smart 22 year old man?
          First, because he’s obviously ill and needs assistance.
          Second, because you will feel 100% better without an icky smell in the house… this is about your mental health, too.
          Third, because you’ll show proper respect by requesting his cooperation instead of telling him what to do–it’s how one should treat an adult.

          Please let us know how this works.

          –Margaret

        2. Hello again Sandra, I’ve been thinking about the last thing you wrote in your comments about asking God “why is this happening to us… to him.” I can’t answer the question of why but I can tell you this, knowing the answer won’t help you. An explanation will not tell you what to do. Ask God for strength, forbearance, and support instead. One thing you will learn from this experience is the true meaning of faith. For me and many other parents, including those who had no beliefs whatsoever, there were times when there was nothing left but faith.

          –Margaret

          1. Thank you for your last reply, my son hasn’t changed much at all… still not working. Now he is sleeping on top of his bed, in his clothes. He doesn’t get in it. And I’m still having to say, have you had a wash!! When will this end??

          2. Hello again Sandra,

            Your son is not going to get better without help. You can remind him and ask him but it wont work. You said he refuses help–sadly, most others with early mental illness refuse help. This makes it so difficult and frustrating! But we parents can handle this situation with a very different approach and lots of patience. Your prayer will help, but take action also. Here are three suggestions:

            1. Get my book, “Raising Troubled Kids” on Amazon. It was written to help parents’ help their child, no matter what age or diagnosis. I raised my own mentally ill child and worked with 100’s of other parents, so I have a good idea what works. Another good book is “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” by Xavier Amador. I mentioned it in previous response. It is longer and little more complicated to read, but it’s very good.

            2. Find a NAMI Chapter near you and visit or call or attend a group for family members of a mentally ill person. This is the National Alliance for Mental Illness, and you can find chapters across the USA on their website http://www.nami.org. It really helps to talk with someone face-to-face.

            3. If you can’t find a NAMI chapter, hire me! I am a counselor for parents with mentally ill children and young adults, and I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. Like any other counselor, I can’t help you without knowing your full story in your words, and asking lots and lots of questions. You can find out more by going to the “Help By Phone” page.

            Your son needs you to do the work for him. He really isn’t able to manage now and he won’t automatically get better without help. You can do this! I’ve seen it happen over and over, parents can turn things around for their child.

  2. My son spends a lot of time in his room, which we find frustrating!! He rarely sits downstairs with us. He is 22 years old. 2 years ago he was smoking weed, and it had a bad effect on him… he was paranoid, barely washed. Wasn’t the same person.

    He had stopped smoking, and I think he probably had the occasional. However 8 weeks ago, his nan was killed in Jamaica we all went over for the funeral. Myself and my daughters returned home a few days before my husband and son. When my husband and son returned, I noticed something behind my sons ear. I asked him what it was, he said a smoke. I asked what was in it. He said weed. His dad got very angry.. and said he thought he had learnt from 2 years ago, and the effect it had on him. My son said he was smoking in Jamaica.

    I had to get in between the 2 of them, as it was getting physical. Since then my son has become rude, more than before he went to Jamaica. He is constantly in his room, with the door closed. It use to be slightly open. He waits until we go to bed, then comes downstairs to watch tv.

    We are all grieving.. and finding this really difficult. Don’t know what to do about him. He doesn’t work, doesn’t claim benefit.

    Sometimes I wish I wasn’t his mom.. he’s hard work. Can you help?

    1. Hello Sandra,

      I will help as best I can. It sounds like your family is under more stress than it can handle right now, and it’s being aimed at your son’s behavior. This, and smoking, will push him over the edge. You are understandably frustrated and exhausted. Your husband is too, and his comes out as anger and a willingness to be physical. Your son can’t handle this stress at all, so hiding in his room might be the best option, or the lesser of other bad options.

      What you witnessed after his first use of marijuana was psychosis. Marijuana triggers psychosis in about 18% of young people in their teens and twenties. Psychotic symptoms change one’s personality and they will say and do things they would not ordinarily do. It looks like depression, anxiety, or sadly, schizophrenia. People with schizoid type disorders are paranoid, they don’t take care of themselves, they have strange beliefs and usually hallucinations. Being isolated and alone is normal for people with schizophrenia, and it actually helps them (only if they are being safe!).

      This is a guess: If your son became psychotic once, a risk remained an underlying condition. Then something stressful happened, and he chose marijuana to reduce his stress (his nan’s death?). Using marijuana would make him feel better briefly, but worsen his mental state. This happened to my daughter, who was eventually diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. I made things much worse for her by being frustrated and angry at her because she was falling behind in life. Now I regret it so much. Don’t do what I did. The best thing for now is to back off and work on a low stress household. Support yourself and your husband and daughter on healing, peace, and wellbeing.

      Your son needs to be seen by a mental health specialist ASAP (!) if he is willing to go (or even if you can bribe him to go). His parents’ anger, frustration, and demands can drive him into deeper psychotic behavior, which worsens over time without treatment. You need his trust and he needs relief.

      Since it’s your household, you have the right to search his room and take away any marijuana or other drugs, but not when he’s there! Be careful, this can unfold into a lengthy emotional upheaval. It’s important for you and your husband to support each other, and support and calm your son, not vent anger.

      Hold these thoughts in mind as the most important things for now for you, your family, and your son.

      Safety first. Is everyone psychically and emotionally safe? Many problems are not worth a battle.
      Acceptance. You son may be very sick and not capable of being the person you’d love for him to be. Let go of things that are not serious even if they’re difficult for you. Put first things first.
      Family balance. Pay attention to your husband and daughter as much as you do him, or even more. You all need to be strong and healthy first, before you can help your son.
      Expectations that are realistic. This is a long road. Pace yourself, take just one step at a time or one day at a time.

      I wish you the best.

    2. Hello Sandra,

      I will help as best I can. It sounds like your family is under more stress than it can handle right now, and it’s all being aimed at your son’s behavior. This, and smoking, will push him over the edge. You are understandably frustrated and exhausted. Your husband is too, and angry and willing to be physical. Your son can’t handle this stress at all, so hiding in his room might be the best option, or the lesser of other bad options.

      What you witnessed after his first use of marijuana was psychosis. Marijuana triggers psychosis in about 18% of young people in their teens and twenties. Psychotic symptoms change one’s personality and they’ll say and do things they would not ordinarily do. It looks like depression, anxiety, or sadly, schizophrenia. People with schizoid type disorders are paranoid, they don’t take care of themselves, they have strange beliefs and usually hallucinations. Being isolated and alone is normal for people with schizophrenia, and it actually helps them (if they are being safe!).

      This is a guess: If your son became psychotic once, the risk remained an underlying condition. Then something stressful happened, and he chose marijuana to reduce his stress (his nan’s death?). Using marijuana would make him feel better briefly, but worsen his mental state. This happened to my daughter, who was eventually diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. I made things much worse for her by being frustrated and angry at her because she was falling behind in life. Now I regret it so much. Don’t do what I did. The best thing for now is to back off and work on a low stress household—support yourself and your husband and daughter on healing, peace, and wellbeing.

      Your son needs to be seen by a mental health specialist ASAP (!) if he is willing to go (or even if you can bribe him to go). His parents’ anger, frustration, and demands can drive him into deeper psychotic behavior, which worsens over time without treatment. You need his trust and he needs relief.

      Since it’s your household, you have the right to search his room and take away any marijuana or other drugs, but not when he’s there! Be careful, this unfold into a lengthy emotional upheaval. It’s important for you and your husband to support each other and support and calm him, not vent anger.

      Hold these thoughts in mind as the most important things for now for you, your family, and your son.
      Safety first. Is everyone psychically and emotionally safe? Many problems are not worth a battle.
      Acceptance. You son may be very sick and not capable of being the person you’d love for him to be. Let go of things that are not serious even if they’re difficult for you. Put first things first.
      Family balance. Pay attention to your husband and daughter as much as you do him, or even more. You all need to be strong and healthy first, before you can help your son.
      Expectations that are realistic. This is a long road. Pace yourself, take just one step at a time or one day at a time.

      I wish you the best.

  3. I am concerned for my son,he is in the mild category, he doesn’t talk much unless it’s to argue so I am a little concerned (he loves to argue and he likes to bring others into the conversation whenever he feels that we are picking on him) so I am not sure how to get through to him, we have a good relationship ship but he will purposely be annoying and then say, we never praise him…..he chooses to show the negative behavior, how do I praise him without supporting his behavior (I also am concerned bc there is a history of bipolar and I to not want that to be the case )

    1. Hello Tina,

      Your son sounds emotionally manipulative, which may or may not be intentional. Regular teens can go through a defiant, manipulative, and hurtful phase that eventually passes. If you have a good relationship in general, then he may be angry or irritated–perhaps he doesn’t like how he’s being treated and wants to be treated differently? Instead of communicating his needs honestly, he’s throwing out distractions and being obnoxious. Perhaps he’s frustrated and doesn’t think he can say what he wants to say? Perhaps he wants to be praised for something else? or not at all?

      You might try bringing his unspoken feelings out in the open by frankly asking what’s bothering him: “You’ve been arguing a lot and you seem irritated, what’s bothering you?; Are we doing something that irritates you?”; “Is there something else on your mind?”. But before you ask any questions steel yourself for a blast of anger, and prepare to listen without reacting or responding. You WANT him to let everything out that’s bottled up! When you ask him these questions, he may say something hurtful and refuse to answer. Just wait. Ask again and say something like “Really, I want to know and I promise I won’t say anything.” Then wait more. Let there be an uncomfortable silence and wait. When someone releases their feelings, they need to feel heard, and this happens when you do nothing but pay attention and listen, and repeat what you heard now and then. No input except for acknowledgement.

      It’s hard to tell from your comment if there are bipolar symptoms. Are there? Be honest with yourself if you see them. If so, these things should happen:
      — The first is really hard, face it and be strong, grieve, accept, and have hope. You can handle this because you are a good mom. You wouldn’t have commented if you weren’t!
      — The second thing is to get mental health treatment for him, and add in a good diet, exercise, sleep, & gut health.
      — Next, hold a family meeting with or without him depending on the situation (trust your gut). Lead your family to work together, support each other, and be a team. You want a strong family and a therapeutic home for everyone, especially you. As the team leader, be prepared for discomfort at first. Everyone needs to have a say and there may be bottled up emotions.

      Please feel free to clarify anything or ask questions. The fact that you have a good relationship with your son is very very positive. You may just have to endure his behavior and pull back on things that irritate him.

  4. My brother is out of control he falls into the serious catergory in school and home. my mother is trying to look for help but when she finds help from the gov or courts, they usually dont help.

  5. Hopefully this will give my brothers brain a jolt with his evil daughter who is 17. I rate her more than very serious but he who is a medical doctor is frightened at upsetting her! This girl needs help and boot camp!! How can i as an onlooker get help for this child??

    1. Hello Sally,
      Many parents have the same response as your brother, whether they are doctors or drop outs. He may have two things on his mind: if I upset her, she’ll make my life hell, or if I upset her, she’ll do something to hurt herself. In my own case, I was worried about triggering a suicide attempt. II have a suggestion for helping your brother.

      First, he needs to admit she needs serious mental health treatment, psychiatric and psychotherapeutic. Perhaps you can show him this article.

      Second, he needs to build up inner strength,and make a crisis plan for managing the backlash when he tries to get treatment for your niece. He will need tons of support from you and others, possibly his own therapist (we parents really need our own therapists in tough cases like this). He will need to hear he’s a good dad and doing the right thing, that his daughter will still love him and show it someday, that it’s no one’s fault, that he’s not alone.

      Last, he will need a support network that will be with him for several more years, at least until she’s 24-25. That’s how long it takes before a troubled child can start to be functional again.

      Good luck, and good sister for asking on your brother’s behalf.

      Margaret

      1. Dear Margaret

        We have been telling my brother this for over 5 years now. Unfortunately his wife who was ill and dying could not cope with this child and that child even beat up on her mother and my brother did NOTHING!!!!All of his friends and Family have been Standing by him now for all this time and whatever we tell him to do or suggest he ignores, because he fells he might upset this Monster!!! And you are right- MY BROTHER Needs the Boot camp too to wash his head of this nonsense!! My niece has threatened my Family in Canada where they reside with homicide…Do you realise now why I am worried. I live in Germany and am looking on from so far away!! She stand s to inherit a very very large amount of Money and my brother hasnt changed his will!!She as a drug addict steals from his Company(Loads of Money) which he just excuses. She steals clothing and goes to Restaurants and then runs out wihtout paying to get a thrill- the adrenaline rush. She steals Money from the visa Card from my mother an old woman.She steals from her friends. She lies through her teeth. She stabs bedroom doors of the Family and then lays knives on their beds threatening them…and no one does anything even NOT my brother whom I thought being a medical doctor would see how explosive this Situation is. She has no Intention of killing herself..she is too selfish for that!! She has absolutely NO concience!!She has told us she hates my mother and her sister and would like to murder my mother. Shes told her father shes not kissing his f…..g feet any more. If this was my daughter I would surely Show her true love!!!And it wouldnt be nice!! I am very very worried about this Situation .This Monster also is an alcoholic since 14 but my brother has turned a blind eye- his poor wife couldnt cope. My brother is in total denial of everything and Im getting pretty aggressive and have NO understanding whatsoever for him or this creature-most despicable specimen of humanity.

        I know this will take a Long time to fix- but how do we convince this stupid man!!!I would be very greatful for all the help I can get. And thank you very much from the heart for your quick Response.

        Regards

        Sally-ann Mcclelland

        1. You clearly have disdain and abundant judgement toward your brother “the medical doctor” and your niece “the monster”. Surely your negativity and the way you view your family makes then less receptive to any concerns, advice or input you may have offered up to them. The judgemental, righteous tone you write this comment with makes it clear that you refuse to play any supportive rule in improving the daily situation. Your time comes off as one of jealousy (constantly referring to him as the medical doctor when his job is irrelevant…. he’s simply a parent in this situation, nothing more) and cuteness (no human especially a child should be referred to as a monster – it lacks dignity). And while it’s true that your fault needs help I think attitudes like yours only hinder an already difficult situation. Try showing actual support and treating your fault with dignity and respect rather than snarky remarks and you may find they respond better. Just a thought.

          1. Omg!!! Just New read the last paragraph wherein you called your brother a STUPID MAN and your niece a CREATURE! YOU clearly need help. Your daily is undoubtedly better without your input. You disgust me.

  6. What do you do about a child who is mildly serious? How do you keep them from becoming a serious threat to himself and others?

    1. This is a fantastic question! With any child that is showing signs of serious troubles, even little signs, first check the facts. What does a teacher observe? What does another family member or close friend observe?

      Then ask the child very considerately how they feel, and be very frank if necessary: “Have you ever thought about hurting yourself? Have you ever thought about hurting someone else? Or, are you afraid you might do something crazy? Or just too afraid of something (anything) that it’s getting too hard to cope?

      Reassure the child that they are not in trouble, and their feelings don’t make them a bad person. Let them know clearly that you care how they’re doing. Let them know that others care how they’re doing.

      Listen to what they say without judgment or advice or warnings until you are clear yourself about what they’re experiencing. Ask them what they need from you/others when they experience problems. A troubled child might come up with something that makes little sense to you, but if it’s safe, try it. Whatever it takes to REDUCE STRESS and BUILD TRUST.

      Keep them talking with you or someone they trust. Keep a communication bridge open. This is extremely important. The whole point is to have the child trust you enough to cooperate with mental health treatment if needed. AND as important, to make they’re problems ‘acceptable’ or ‘OK’ with the rest of the family. They can’t be stigmatized; they must be tolerated or supported if they have problems.

      Hope this helps. Good luck. Things work out.

      Margaret

  7. I have been trying to obtain help for years. My daughter threatens harm to herself and now has a well thought out plan to kill my family. The police won’t do anything, her counselor wants to work on a safety plan, hospitals can’t put her on a 72hr hold. I’m lost and scared. Not to mention i found out she is trying to get pregnant at age 15. Does anyone have any ideas? I have 2 other daughters that she has harmed and scared them not to tell. Please please any info to help we are in Federal Way Washington.
    Thank you,
    Scared Mom

    1. Hello Charlene,

      I’ve not been able to respond quickly because I have a new job with lots of demands, but your plea is hard to ignore. From the few details you provided, it seems your daughter may have a mood disorder, and to me, she has some similar behaviors to my own daughter at that age. The very first thing you must do is what the school counselor suggested–work on a safety plan… It is also called a crisis plan. You are in a crisis but you CAN turn this around.

      You may need to go to some extremes because you have not one person (your troubled daughter) but 4 people who must be shielded from harm counting you and the younger girls. I encourage you to read two other articles on this these subjects that may help:
      The authorities you need help from aren’t helping, a sadly common situation in families like ours and so unfair. It victimizes the victims, but you are not helpless. Take a deep breath and think of every possible way to lessen the risks you daughter has placed on your family. These are some ideas of things other parents have had to do.

      Pregnancy prevention: get a Depo Provera shot for your daughter or a birth control implant ASAP. You have the right to follow her if you think she will seek out sex.

      Search your daughter’s room when she is not there and look for things that are dangerous and remove them–this is perfectly legal. You even have the right to search a computer or laptop or cell phone for names and contacts of people who negatively influence her or provide drugs. She has most likely used alcohol and street drugs. Marijuana can cause angry, agitated, and assaultive behavior in adolescents with psychiatric disorders.

      Tell everyone you need help, everyone who has any contact with her at all, neighbors, teachers, parents of friends, even risky friends, businesses where she may hang out, etc. Let everyone know you are watching out for her and want information on her associates or any risky behavior. This will frighten inappropriate adults away if they find out you’re watching.

      She will hate you for this, but there’s one important thing about teenagers, even troubled ones, they secretly appreciate that someone cares enough to go to these lengths. It’s scary out there and they don’t trust themselves one some level. Really!

      Consider therapy for you and your younger daughters together, without your 15 year old. You all need to speak openly about this. They need to feel secure and safe and probably don’t. They need to hear that you love them very much and will look out for them. These girls need advice on what to do for you, themselves, and each other when there’s another crisis. A therapist can lovingly guide you all. They are being forced to grow up too fast, but you can give them strength to endure and enjoy childhood.
      Take a deep breath, encircle yourself with good people, lean on them, take breaks. Something will happen, your daughter will get into enough trouble that help will come. Please hang in there.

      Margaret

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Parent to Parent Guidance

Parent to Parent Guidance

Margaret Puckette is a Certified Parent Support Provider, and assists parents on how to effectively raise their troubled child. She believes parents need realistic practical guidance for family life and school, not just information about disorders. Margaret has mentored families for over 20 years. She is an author & speaker, and knows from personal experience there is reason for hope.

You Can Handle This.

You Can Handle This.

You are not alone. It's no one's fault. Behavior disorders are disabilities! Troubled children need a very different parenting approach than 'normal' kids.

Care for yourself first, then set new goals:
1. Physical and emotional safety for all
2. Acceptance of the way things are
3. Family balance, meet the needs of all
4. One step at a time, one day at a time

Practical Guide for Parents

Practical Guide for Parents

A guide with practical steps for reducing stress at home and successfully raising a troubled child. You use the same proven techniques as mental health and other professionals. It starts by taking care of your wellbeing first, then taking an entirely different approach to parenting.
Amazon $14.99, Kindle $5.99

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