How Do I Know If My Teenager is in Trouble?

by Mark Gregston

Worried about your son or daughter but not sure how to know how bad it really is? Answer the questions below and add up the score to see the results.

1. Your teen refuses to abide by anything you say or request, and his or her resulting behaviors put your him/her or your family in high danger or risk, leading to constant fear or stress in the home.

2. Your teen is displaying behavior that is a marked change from what has been normal (sleeping little or too long, forgetfulness, lack of motivation, aggression, depression, anxiety, grades slipping, hating what they once loved or loving what they once hated, always wanting to be with friends or away from home, or avoiding friends altogether and spending too much time alone).

3. Your teen has become increasingly disrespectful, dishonest, disobedient, and openly displays rebellion, no longer veiling his or her feelings or caring about the consequences.

4. There is a blatant ignorance or profound rebellion toward the boundaries, belief system or rules of the home. This can be shown in passive aggressiveness or open defiance that is unusually excessive for your teen.

5. There are outright or veiled threats of suicide, or self-mutilation/cutting, excessive risk-taking, dangerous drug use or blatant sexual promiscuity—a loss of a conscience or moral compass.

6. Treatment by your teen of people, pets or belongings is threatening or out of control.

7. Your teen thinks he or she is the center of your family and shows blatant disregard for the feelings of other family members, their time or their possessions.

8. Months of counseling providing little or no positive progress for your teen.

9. Your teen refuses to do anything family-related and displays a growing hatred for the family.

10. You cannot keep your teen away from peers who are obviously leading a lifestyle counter to your beliefs and your teen is buying into their destructive behavior and attitudes.


If your teen exhibits 5 or more of these signs, you may want to contact us.

Contrast the above list with what would be considered more normal teenage behavior:

  • Cooperates with and cares for others
  • Thinks realistically about their need for family and other people
  • Suffers personal discomfort to accomplish positive life goals
  • Bases their actions and behavior on convictions and beliefs rather than feelings
  • Takes care of their own personal needs without imposing on others
  • Treats people, pets and things with respect
  • Has feelings of purpose and an excitement for the future
  • Maintains relationships even in difficult times
  • Defines who they are without giving in to what everyone else thinks they should be.

There is nothing worse than living with a teen spinning out of control, and no worse feeling than the hopelessness parents experience as a result. It’s difficult to know what to do and how to react when your teen daily reaches new lows in disobedience, dishonesty and disrespect.

Is your family experiencing the crisis of a teenager out of control? Are you walking on pins and needles around the situation? Are you at your wit’s end?

Every day, we hear from dozens of frustrated parents who share how their once normal and happy child is now dangerously out of control—abusing drugs or alcohol, lying, stealing, cutting or engaging in other destructive or disturbing behavior. They talk about how it has disrupted their home, how they fear for their child’s future—even their life. We hear it over and over again: “My child is no longer who she used to be.”

Your teen needs you to intervene. The downward spiral can have tremendous destructive potential with lifelong consequences, or even bring a young life to a quick end. When teens spin out of control, they need a responsible adult to respond, not react—even if they do everything they can to shut you out. Don’t ignore the evidence. that your teen is spinning out of control. Act today based on what you know is true—your faith, your own beliefs, and what you know is best. for your teen.

Heartlight’s therapeutic program can provide your teen with the help, healing, and mentoring he or she needs—as well as defined boundaries and a continued education. Heartlight also hosts seminars and weekend retreats to ensure success for the whole family. And the Heartlight staff help parents learn what to expect from their teen as they move through the program.

Everyone can then look past heated emotions to focus on healing. When you need help, hope, and healing, you’ll find it at Heartlight.

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