What does it mean to be a troubled youth?
Labels can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Each and every child, teen and adult is a complex and unique individual with a unique set of struggles and challenges. However there are a number of struggles that teens and their families face that may have similar characteristics. This is where a label such as “troubled youth” may become effective. It should not be used as a way to put them in a box, but rather to diagnose their behavior as somehow negatively different from the norm, therefore prompting parents and family members to seek help. Crosswinds is here to provide support and assistance for those out there who struggle every day with these issues.
The dictionary defines the word “troubled” as meaning: “exhibiting emotional or behavioral problems.” Obviously this is a broad definition, meaning that the term “troubled youth” also has a broad range of meanings. But here are some things to look for that may signify that troubled youth have crossed over from what are “normal” emotional or behavioral issues for teens to something more serious such as oppositional defiant disorder or substance abuse.
Risky/Rebellious Behavior with Long-Term Consequences: Risk-taking and pushing the boundaries is completely normal in pre-teen and teen years as your child exerts their desire for independence. Trying alcohol at a party once or staying out a few times past curfew should be addressed, but likely will not have permanent consequences. However issues like binge drinking, sexual promiscuity, consistent drug usage, or other illegal activities could quite possibly have permanent consequences on the rest of your teen’s life and should be taken extremely seriously.
Mental or Emotional Disorders: Another characteristic that is often at play when describing “troubled youth” is the existence of diagnosable mental or emotional disorder. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or many others may become a problem during the teen years. Factors contributing to these disorders range from genetic to situational.
Whatever the reasons, if you suspect that your teen is struggling with a mental health disorder, don’t wait to find help for them! These issues will likely only worsen as your teen enters adulthood. Though treatment is complex, millions of people have found healing from these diagnosable illnesses.