Whetstone on Common Signs of Trouble in Teen Boys
Whetstone Boys Ranch understands that when young boys start spinning out of control they usually exhibit many different signs of behavior, which parents need to watch out for.
Unfortunately, many parents often write-off these signs as normal adolescent behavior and as a result they don’t realize that their son is into drugs or other at-risk behavior until it is too late.
So how can you as a parent know for sure whether or not your son is in danger? Simple … by understanding that every child is in danger of this. The parent who says “not my kid” is the same parent who will miss all the signs that their son has started experimenting with drugs, promiscuity, illegal activities or other troubled behavior. Often they will stay in this state of denial till their son is in real trouble. So what should you as parents be looking for?
1. Dramatic changes in style of clothes, hair, music — an excessive need to “fit in” with their peers
These outward signs should be obvious to a parent. Has your son started listening to radically different music, dressing differently, asking to get tattoos or piercings, or coloring their hair some weird color just to fit in? Maybe he’s dressing differently or in a provocative way to fit in with friends at school? All of these are outward signs that your son is succumbing to negative peer pressure.
2. Tardiness and/or truancies
You need to stay in touch with your son’s school. Never assume that the school will be in touch with you if there is a problem. If your son is getting into drugs or alcohol, he’ll most likely start ditching class from time to time. Kids who do this tend to take off during the middle of school and get stoned somewhere near the campus. Don’t assume that their school will let you know about this kind of behavior. And you need to realize, kids are great at covering up this kind of behavior. Every teen knows how to forge their parent’s signature — no joke. Call your son’s school from time to time and ask about his attendance record. You need to take the initiative here!
3. Isolating from family
Does your teen boy suddenly act distant? Does he constantly want to be with friends, get away from home, have secret sleep-overs with friends of parents you do not know? When your teen has gone missing for a time and you ask what they’ve been up to, is the reply vague, defensive, or not reply at all? Do they want to eat in their room or at a friends’ houses all the time instead of with the family? Children are smart – they know that the easiest lie to tell is the one they can avoid having to tell. If your son doesn’t tell you what he’s been up to, there’s a good chance he’s hiding something.
4. Changes in attitude and personality
Does it seem like your son is suddenly a completely different person with a new personality which you don’t like one bit? Has their tone become tough and disrespectful? If they’re experimenting with at-risk behavior, there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing these kinds of attitude changes. Often parents just see this as normal teenage behavior and write it off. Don’t make this mistake . . . otherwise you might overlook one of the most obvious signs.
5. Changes in sleep patterns
Sleep changes should be fairly obvious. Does your teen stay up late (or even all night) frequently, refusing to get up in the morning at a decent time. Does your son sleep way too much or way too little. If he’s not sleeping much, there’s a good chance stimulant drugs are being used.
6. Eating way too much or way too little
Here’s another obvious sign of chemical experimentation or bulimia, that is often overlooked as normal teenage behavior. Does your son come home in the afternoon after hanging out with friends and devour everything in the refrigerator? If your teen is smoking pot with friends, it wouldn’t be unusual to binge on more food than normal. And if they’re dealing with bulimia, they’ll eat a lot and then discretely go to the bathroom to purge.
7. Paranoia – everyone is out to get me
Does your teen treat everybody as if they were the enemy? Do they tend to express the idea that everybody is out to get them? Are they fearful to go to school, to athletic practice, or some other activity? Are there signs of overly paranoid, anxious and fearful reactions to you? This is not normal teenage behavior; you need to understand that. It could be that they’re being bullied or sexually abused, or substance usage making your teen react that way. In any event, this warning sign should cause you to get help for your son.
8. Experimenting with drugs or alcohol
Do your teen’s eyes look funny? Are the pupils real large or real small? Does your son wear sunglasses even at night and try and say he’s just trying to look cool? Do they suddenly show an interest in burning incense in their room? A person’s eyes show the effects of the drugs they are using. If you think your son is experimenting with drugs, watch his eyes. Are they red all the time? Glazed? If so, there’s a real good chance your son is using drugs or alcohol.
9. Sudden bursts of anger
Has your son recently developed a violent side? Is he prone to sudden, uncontrollable fits of anger? This doesn’t have to mean physically violent (though that is often the case) but can also be a teen who is always yelling or threatening people. Any of these things should be a warning sign to you that your son could be experimenting with alcohol or drugs, or that he’s being abused or bullied.
If your son is experimenting with drugs, he will be telling lots of lies to cover this up. Teens tend to be very good at covering things up. If you start wondering whether or not your son is telling you the truth, there is a good chance that your instincts are right. Be persistent and learn what it is that they are trying to cover up.
11. Dramatic mood swings
Does your son seem overly happy and giddy one day, then terribly depressed the next day? Does your son’s emotions go up and down constantly? This is often confused with ‘normal’ teenage behavior, but it can also be an obvious sign of emotional or substance abuse issues. Don’t simply write it off.
12. Excessive money spending or money disappearing
If your son keeps coming to you needing money, or if money keeps coming up missing from your purse or your wallet, you need to have a serious talk with him. Especially if he always seems to need 20 dollars or 50 dollars — round amounts — since that is often the price of drugs.
13. Hanging out with a bad crowd (a different crowd than they used to)
Your son might try and tell you that he has new friends who are cool kids (and old friends are not). But you need to take a close look at these ‘new’ kids. Chances are that the way these friends normally behave is the way your child also behaves when you’re not watching. Are some of your teen’s new friends using drugs or alcohol, or experimenting with sexual activities? If so, your teen is too. Your son’s friends are like a mirror for your teen — they look in the mirror and try to conform to what they see there. One of the best ways to get a good idea of what your son is like is to look at his new friends.
14. Excessive use of foul or obscene language
Has your son suddenly developed a filthy mouth? This might indicate that he’s giving into peer pressure from friends. This is a warning sign to you. If your son is trying to fit in with their friends by cursing, sooner or later your young teen will probably look for other ways to gain acceptance in his peer group.
We can help your troubled teen boy get back on track and become the man God wants him to be. Call us today.
Whetstone Boys Ranch is a therapeutic Christian school that serves struggling boys (ages 12-16) and their families. Here boys live, learn, work and grow as they experience essential individual, group and family therapy, excellent academics, exciting outdoor adventures, and useful hands-on tasks. We believe in sharpening the character of young men to become true servant-leaders in their families and communities.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17 NIV
Since 2011, Whetstone’s purpose centers on the reconciliation of boys and their families. Whetstone treats struggles such as anger, depression, low self-esteem and trauma with a loving, systems-based approach. And this comprehensive method of treatment and restoration sets us apart.
We want to help your boy!
Please call us today. (417) 934-1112