Terrified. That’s how most parents feel when their kid is showing signs of abnormal or dysfunctional teenager behavior.
Frustrated, fed up, helpless—these are just a few of the feelings fighting to rise to the surface during turbulent times with your teen. “What should I do with my troubled teen?” is a question many parents ask when they hit a similar place.
Abnormal psychology seeks to understand what defines typical behavior and what causes various “abnormal” responses. If your teen is exhibiting more than the normal “rebellion” or attitude common for a teen, you may need to look into underlying issues and more intensive solutions for their mental health before things get worse.
Because, it can absolutely get worse.
What Does Abnormal Psychology and Teen Dysfunctional Behavior Look Like?
Most of the time, abnormal behavior and emotional disorders in teens are connected to very low grades, trouble socializing, lack of (or extreme) emotion and impaired ability to function. Teens that struggle to build healthy relationships with their parents, peers or teachers may suffer from dysfunctional behavior. Often the signs are violent or extreme.
Teens that struggle with smaller issues can sometimes exacerbate their problems by turning to drugs or alcohol. This can lead to dysfunctional behavior due to substance abuse.
Abnormal psychology can sometimes be a result of psychological or social factors. A difficult home life, past trauma or unusual brain chemistry may lead to an unusual way of perceiving the world and poor mental health. This covers a broad range and may include:
- Severe autism disorders
- Learning disabilities
- Personality disorders
- Pathological behaviors
- Psychopath or sociopath
- Psychiatric disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Dissociative disorders
Abnormal psychology is largely determined by social norms. You know if your child is struggling beyond what you are able to handle.
Dysfunctional behavior is when your teen turns to behaviors that aren’t sustainable or healthy.
How do I Know if My Teen Needs More Help?
It is normal for teens to get into some trouble, question authority, lie to get out of trouble and sometimes fail to really see the big picture.
But it isn’t normal for teens to be violent towards others, self-harm, completely shut down, abuse substances or lie compulsively. These are examples of teen behavior that is driven by abnormal psychology and has become dysfunctional.
If your teen is acting in a dysfunctional way that is not normal for teen behavior, you need to take action.
This is a crucial time for your child. They are just now starting to branch out and take responsibility for their own actions. Without intervention, your teen could do something that permanently impacts his or her life.
Supportive Solutions for a Dysfunctional Teenager
Intense problems require trained professionals.
Before your teen heads down a path of full-on destruction, you can take more drastic action. Boarding schools and residential treatment centers are sometimes considered a “last-ditch” effort, but they are valid resources that can help your teen get back on track.
Wilderness therapy programs and Residential Therapeutic Programs for dysfunctional teens can pull your child out of their normal environment and help them learn self-control, respect, self-discipline, introspection, and more.
Boarding schools can offer unique opportunities for your child to have focused experience in an academic-centric place with peers that have similar struggles.
Short-term residential facilities can help with substance abuse issues for teens.
If you need help determining the right next step for your teen, talk to someone who can help you understand your options. It can be confusing and overwhelming, but a counselor can offer insight and professional support to make the right call for your family.