Why is my teen withdrawn? How can I connect with my teen and find out what is wrong?
Has your teen withdrawn from their friends and even your family? Some teens withdraw from their family if they feel misunderstood or unaccepted.
In this case, the family is at risk of a broken relationship. Withdrawal can also be a sign of mental illness, trauma, or substance abuse. In cases such as these, withdrawal is a cry for help.
Is your teen spending hours in their room, usually on their phone or computer? When they emerge are they uncommunicative and sometimes hostile when you attempt to talk with them?
Have they stopped hanging out with their friends, not wanting to attend family functions, losing interest in their favorite activities?
Has your teen started failing in school, maybe even stopped going to school?
Being shut out by a teenager is a painful experience. Are you getting one-word answers and blank stares when you attempt a conversation, are they now living in their own bubble and you’re concerned about their emotional well-being?
The fact is, teens will be teens, but when they withdraw into isolation for a long period of time (more than usual), and you realize it’s impacting their mental health, you need to step-in.
Ways to help a withdrawn teen
Don’t take it personally:
This is part of adolescence. Your teen withdrawing is not your fault, it’s not a personal rejection.
Manage and let go:
Although your teen tells you they want to be left alone, that’s unrealistic. You need to keep an eye on them, but you also need to know when to keep quiet and let them handle their own lives.
Stay in touch:
Find creative ways to connect with your teen. Try to find some common ground, such as talking about something you’re both interested in, or doing an activity together that you both enjoy – even if that’s just watching the same TV show.
Pay attention to the positive:
Ensure that you have some positive interactions with your teen, instead of just asking them to unstack the dishwasher/do their homework/go to sleep.
Don’t push them too hard:
Work out what’s really non-negotiable in your family and choose your battles. For example, is it really necessary for your teen’s bedroom to stay tidy?
If you’re concerned about your teen – or you’re struggling to cope with them pulling away from you – there’s no shame in seeking help. Mental health professionals can help determine if there is something deeper going on — maybe your teen is struggling with depression, anxiety or something that has been weighing on them. You can also start with your school counselor for ways to help.
Read: 5 Benefits of Therapeutic Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens.
Read: Purpose of Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens.
Read: What Causes of Teenage Mental Health Issues?
If you exhaust your local resources and still find your teen is struggling, you may want to consider learning more about behavioral therapy in residential treatment for teen help. Contact us for more information.