During their teenage years, it’s not uncommon for a child to display some form of withdrawal. Spending more time than usual shut up in their room, only briefly emerging to grab a snack and exchange a few words, can be a sign that your teen has gotten hooked on a new video game or binge-watching a new show. But withdrawal can also be an indication of more serious underlying problems. Here are some things you can do to help your teenager:
Watch for warning signs
Social withdrawal can be a brief phase, a one-time mood swing your child goes through and breaks out of eventually. But you need to keep an eye out for other warning signs. Fits of anger or anxiety, trouble sleeping, poor appetite, evidence of self-harm, and use of alcohol, tobacco products, or drugs can all point to underlying mental health issues.
Mental illness is a severe problem in Utah and has been linked to substance abuse across the country. Don’t hesitate to consult with a mental health professional and seek help with substance abuse programs for teens if you uncover an emergency.
Get them into activities
Sometimes your teenager’s withdrawal isn’t an indication of anything more serious than an excessive fondness for social media or video games. But virtual interactions are no substitute for real activity and can place undue emphasis on the self.
Help your child break out of their withdrawn pattern by trying to engage them in various activities instead. Going outdoors provides mental health benefits in the right environment. Fortunately, we have plenty of those in Utah. Plus, you can get them to do some physical exercise in the process. A volunteer program can also help to foster social interactions and give them a meaningful experience centered on helping others.
Make time for them
The last thing a withdrawn teenager needs is a withdrawn parent. Whatever they might be going through, you have to make sure that they understand you’ll always be there for them to provide the support they need. This can be tough if you’re working or taking on other responsibilities, for instance.
Be deliberate and set aside an hour, for instance, when both of you unplug from your gadgets. You can do something together, such as play music or a game you both like. Sharing some of your time can set the stage for them to open up or emerge from their shells.
Create a connection
Kids change constantly, and the problematic teenager you’re dealing with can seem like an entirely different person from the carefree child of years before. Sometimes, a change in approach is all it takes; new ways of communicating and connecting might be what you need.
If their interests have changed, it can be they aren’t sure how to open up about it or are worried that their parents might not approve. They might be more inclined to express themselves through art or writing, or by talking with someone they view as a peer. Establish a connection with them through this intermediary; try out their new hobby, or get to know them through their best friend or a close relative such as a cousin or grandparent they find more approachable.
There can be many reasons for teenagers to become withdrawn, and hopefully, it doesn’t turn out to be anything serious. What matters is your persistence, staying aware, and responding in the best way possible to give them support.