Adolescence represents an inner emotional upheaval, a struggle between the eternal human wish to cling to the past and the equally powerful wish to get on with the future. - Louise J. Kaplan.
Adolescence is usually seen as a difficult stage for parents of teenage children. Parents find hard to accept the fact that their little kid who clung to them for every small need, suddenly desires to be alone or with his friends. However, what parents do not realize is that just like them, the children are also passing through a difficult stage. They are trying to deal with physical, emotional, and moral changes occurring to them, and have started observing the world in a completely different way. It is also a time of confusion, where at times, they are treated like adults while at the next moment, like little kids by their parents. As adolescence is a period where children try to establish their identity, this can actually add to their dilemma. As adolescents begin to see everything in a new light, parents can observe certain behavioral changes in their child. Some of them are a part of normal adolescent behavior that diminishes when the teenager becomes an adult; however, sometimes, they can lead to more serious and dangerous problems which may affect their future lives.
Normal Adolescent Behavior
Usually, adolescence is said to begin when the child turns thirteen years old. However, this is just a parameter set by human, and the physical as well as behavioral changes can begin from the age of 10 or 11, sometimes even much before that. Many parents have said that their sons or daughter have started behaving like a teenager at the age of 11 itself. Though this is a matter of concern of the parents, this is actually quite normal. Though most people associate teenagers with rebelliousness, this is not a common symptom of adolescence. Not all teenagers become rebellious, but may show certain signs of it when their parents refuse what they want. However, one of the most common thing that is seen in all teenagers is the need for independence. They see their parent's questions about what they are doing, where they are going, who are their friends, etc., as a hindrance to their privacy. Another change parents may observe in their children is an increased attachment to their peer groups. The child who would not leave the side of the parents, just few years back, becomes aloof and more closer to his/her friends. He may also be ready to do anything just to please his friends and to be part of the group. These are some of the behavioral changes that are seen in adolescence and can be dealt with proper support and care from the side of the parents. However, there are some grave issues or serious behavioral problems in adolescence that parents may have to deal with.
Types of Adolescent Behavior Disorders
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD, is one of the most common behavior problem among teenagers. This is a type of learning disorder characterized by poor attention span which affects the child's academic performance. Along with learning problems, the teenager may also suffer from problems like hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, etc. Such behavior is sometimes seen as a part of adolescence behavior, and many times, are not taken seriously by the parents. However, there are ways in which parents can identify a child with ADHD. If the teenager is consistently scoring poor scores in his exam, the reason for this can be ADHD. Also, adolescents who have this problem tend to be aggressive and may get involved in antisocial behavior like shoplifting, drinking, smoking, etc. As they find it difficult to do well in school, there are high chances that they will drop out due to frustration and low self-esteem. This can also lead them to risky behavior like smoking, drug abuse, alcohol addiction, etc.
Though depression during adolescence is quite normal, when it extends for a long time, it becomes problematic. Teenagers suffering from chronic depression may show signs like very low energy, insomnia, very less interaction with peers, no interest in activities that they used to like earlier, etc. It is important that parents understand and recognize the signs of teenage depression as soon as possible because if it remains untreated, there are chances that they will aggravate and affect the child's life in later years.
Oppositional Defiance Disorder
Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) is a behavioral problem characterized by hostility, defiance and opposition not only towards parents, but towards the world in general. The affected adolescents show aggressive behavior and also tend to blame others for the way they behave. Some other traits of a teenager who has ODD are very less or no control on anger, argumentative, unreasonable, pessimistic, bad temper, etc. It is said that this kind of behavior starts much before the child reaches adolescence i.e. at the age of 7 or 8. At first, the child will behave in this way only at home; however, soon it will extend to the school and also towards his peer group.
Adolescent Eating Behavior/Disorders
Eating disorders is another common problem seen in teenagers, especially in girls. Teenagers love to indulge in fast foods which can lead to problems like teen obesity as well as improper nutrition. Other than these, there are two very severe problems related to eating which include anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia is a condition which affects people who have very low self-esteem. It comes from the urge to be perfect in all areas of life. This can be quite serious as they may not eat anything causing serious damage to the body, and in some cases, may even lead to death. On the other hand, bulimia is where a person indulges in binge eating, later feels guilty about it, and hence, throws away the food through self-induced vomiting.
If you observe any of these problems in your teenager, it is important that you take him/her to a psychiatrist or mental health practitioner as soon as possible. A good psychiatrist will try to find the root cause of the problem and help your child overcome this behavioral problem. Apart from the treatment given by the specialist, it is crucial that you exhibit patience and give all your love and support to your child during these trying times.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.