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Your Life: Parents should look for warning signs with teenagers

Charlotte Lankard: Too often warning signs go unheeded and are chalked up to “just being a teenager.” As a new school year begins, wise parents will want to be alert to potential problems.
By CHARLOTTE LANKARD, For The Oklahoman Published: August 19, 2014
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If you live with teenagers, you know much of their good feelings about themselves can depend on how they are accepted — or not — by their peers.

As a new school year begins, wise parents will want to be alert to potential problems. Don’t be overly reactive but be observant. Too often warning signs go unheeded and are chalked up to “just being a teenager.”

Behavior is tied to getting one’s needs met. When an adolescent is misbehaving, it doesn’t mean she is trying to hurt you. When he doesn’t know the words to use, he “acts out” the stress. So a parent’s responsibility is to know when the behavior indicates a temporary glitch or a potentially serious problem.

Some red flags might be a drop in grades, switching friends, emotional highs and lows that change rapidly, pushing limits around the house, being more secretive, sleeping more than usual, withdrawing from family functions, wearing the same clothes frequently or not informing you of school activities, such as open houses or suspensions.

Other cues can be myriad excuses for missing curfews or not coming home at all and spending more time in his or her room away from family.

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