You never think it will be your child. But suddenly, you watch as your teen begins to withdraw. They spend more and more time alone in their room. Well, not fully alone. They always have their devices with them. Soon enough, they don’t even want to eat meals together. You want to respect their choices but what if those choices seem dysfunctional?
As a parent, you must exert a certain amount of helpful authority. You can’t just let your teen withdraw into the ether. During these difficult years, they need support — and so do you. This process may begin by normalizing the act of asking for help.
Is It Normal For a Teen to Withdraw?
In some ways, yes. They have reached the age where they want to feel independent. In addition, they’re dealing with a lot of change, e.g.
- Physical and emotional changes
- Peer pressure
- Dating, sex, social life, etc.
- Academic pressure
- Increased responsibilities
But how do you know when “normal” withdrawal has morphed into something to worry about? Here are a few steps to consider:
- Learn about their internet habits. They may be fully engaged with friends or they may be passively watching. If they are not connecting with others, it’s a red flag.
- Monitor their school-related patterns. Are they also withdrawing from school? How are their grades? Are they participating?
- From friends to classmates to siblings and other relatives, have they reduced interactions across their social circles?
- Check for signs of self-harming or self-injury.
- Have they become obsessed with fitness and/or diet and body image?
A Few Things to Know About Teenage Withdrawal
It May Not Have Anything to Do With You
Teens want to distant themselves from anything or anyone that seems controlling. Unless you are given a specific reason to think so, try not to make it personal. Most of all, don’t interrogate them. That may be the quickest way to make it contentious.
Do Not Passively Surrender
This can be frustrating. You will be tempted to throw up your arms and let them stew. Resist this urge. Your teen may be trying to get attention. If you also withdraw, they may lose trust in you.
Invite Them to Spend Fun Time Together
Sometimes, your child associates you with nagging about chores and homework. Try to connect in other ways. It could be something as basic as watching a sporting event together. Help them see you as more than an authority figure.
Remember: Isolation Could Be a Sign of Depression
Losing interest in activities that once interested you is often a sign of depression. This may be what your teen is dealing with.
Let Your Teen Know You Want to Help or Get Them Help
If time passes with any change, gently remind your teen that you are ready and willing to help. Let them know that if they need more than you can offer, you’ll guide them to such support.
Lead By Example By Asking For Help
Normalize asking for help. Do so in front of your children. Demonstrate that no one has it all figured out.
How to Ask For Help
Counseling is an excellent choice in situations like this. You can seek help in learning more about parenting a teen. Your child may see a therapist on their own. In some cases, it makes sense for parent and child to attend family therapy together. These and other resources are readily available.
To learn more, read more about parent counseling and reach out for a confidential consultation today. Let’s work together to answer your questions and address your concerns as you help your teen begin the process of healing.