|Signs in the Home
- loss of interest in family activities
- disrespect for family rules
- withdrawal from responsibilities
- verbally or physically abusive
- sudden increase or decrease in appetite
- disappearance of valuable items or money
- not coming home on time
- not telling you where they are going
- constant excuses for behavior
- spending a lot of time in their rooms
- lies about activities
- finding the following: cigarette rolling papers, pipes, roach clips, small glass vials, plastic baggies, remnants of drugs (seeds, etc.)
Signs at School
- sudden drop in grades
- loss of interest in learning
- sleeping in class
- poor work performance
- not doing homework
- defiant of authority
- poor attitude towards sports or other extracurricular activities
- reduced memory and attention span
- not informing you of teacher meetings, open houses, etc.
Physical and Emotional Signs
- changes in friends
- smell of alcohol or marijuana on breath or body
- unexplainable mood swings and behavior
- negative, argumentative, paranoid or confused, destructive, anxious
- over-reacts to criticism acts rebellious
- sharing few if any of their personal problems
- doesn’t seem as happy as they used to be
- overly tired or hyperactive
- drastic weight loss or gain
- unhappy and depressed
- cheats, steals
- always needs money, or has excessive amounts of money
- sloppiness in appearance
A sure-fire way of inviting problems into your relationship with your teenager is by sending mixed or unclear messages. Clear communication is an absolute must if you want to have a bonding relationship with your teenager. It helps build a foundation of trust, fosters a healthy self-esteem, encourages positive behavior, and helps tone down frustration and stress in the family.
While many parents feel it is close to impossible to have a conversation with their teenager, there are ways. Your child really isn’t becoming a new special breed of alien. They’re just growing up and they still do want to connect with you.
Try these tips to get, and keep, the conversation rolling in your home:
- Use your active listening skills and watch out for those door slammers.
- Talk often with your teen to bring out positive opinions, ideas, and behaviors by using an affirmative tone and body language.
- Treat your child with the same respect you would have them treat you. Say ‘hi’, ‘I love you’, ‘how was your day’, etc.
- Your tone of voice is extremely important. Yelling simply doesn’t work. The loud noise will shut down the listener (your teen) and you will not get through. If you feel the need to yell, ‘time out’ of the conversation until you have better control.
- Be precise and detailed about what you expect. Write it down and use an Action Plan if you feel there is a need.
- If you’re giving your child instructions, write them down. It’s a fail-safe for teens and adults. This way they will remember what they are expected to do and you can feel sure that you ‘told’ them correctly. Remember, to-do lists will keep you stress free.
- Do things together one-on-one and with the whole family. Good times often bring about great conversations, and wonderful memories.
- ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ doesn’t work. Modeling is the best way of learning. You are your teenager’s model and they will emulate your behaviors.
- Never shut your teen out to show that you disapprove of their behavior. If you need time before you can talk to them about something that has upset you, tell them that you need time. Don’t walk away silent.
- “Because I said so” actually works when you are being pulled into a power struggle in discipline situations. You are the parent, and because of this, you do have the final say. Teenagers know this and trust you because of it. But do try to explain your reasoning whenever possible.
(This information is made available from Denise Witmer, Guide to Parenting Teens, at About.com)
For further information on signs of drug abuse, please see the following resources: