Teen Scenes

When your adolescent child shows up for dinner with a mohawk and nose ring, or suddenly stops seeing his friends, what should you do?

Quiz

When your adolescent child shows up for dinner with a mohawk and nose ring, or suddenly stops seeing his friends, what should you do?

1. My 16 year-old has always been an outgoing, social kid who plays competitive sports and has lots of friends. For the past two months, he spends all his free time in his room, hardly contacts his friends, rarely talks to us, and has quit varsity basketball. How should I respond?

  • Chalk it up to being 16. Teens often go through moody, withdrawn periods.
  • There's cause for concern. Get him some professional help. These dramatic changes and withdrawn behavior have lasted too long.

2. My 13 year-old seems full of energy one minute and then can collapse into a lifeless lump saying, "I can't move." Her claim of being "too tired" often coincides with my asking her to help around the house. Is she conning me?

  • Yes. Her "tired" excuses are a means for her to avoid responsibility.
  • Not really. Adolescents, especially younger ones, experience times of intense energy alternating with periods of extraordinary fatigue.

3. My teen arrived at the breakfast table with spiked fluorescent orange hair, six earrings in each ear, and black lipstick. What should I do?

  • Tell her that you didn't know the school play this year was the Rocky Horror Show and ask her how she got her hair spikes to come to such sharp points.
  • Say in a calm but firm voice, "You are not leaving the house looking like that and disgracing the family!"

4. My teen is doing the school play and playing soccer. She's really strapped for time, so finding enough time to complete all her schoolwork can be very tough. She asked me if I would type the final copies of her major term papers for her. Should I help her out?

  • Sure, it's only temporary help and it will assist her in maintaining a healthy, well-rounded life.
  • Don't bail her out by doing her work. She needs to experience the natural consequences of over-scheduling herself.

5. My 17 year-old communicates with me through grunts, shoulder shrugs, and the occasional one to three-word sentence. He obviously does not want to talk to me. Should I just stop talking to him unless he starts the conversation?

  • Yes, he'll talk to you if he wants to or needs to. Otherwise, at this age, your overtures are usually interpreted as intrusions.
  • No, keep talking to him and engaging him in conversation, even if it turns out to be one-sided storytelling on your part.

Your Results:

1. My 16 year-old has always been an outgoing, social kid who plays competitive sports and has lots of friends. For the past two months, he spends all his free time in his room, hardly contacts his friends, rarely talks to us, and has quit varsity basketball. How should I respond?
There's cause for concern. Get him some professional help. These dramatic changes and withdrawn behavior have lasted too long.

2. My 13 year-old seems full of energy one minute and then can collapse into a lifeless lump saying, "I can't move." Her claim of being "too tired" often coincides with my asking her to help around the house. Is she conning me?
Not really. Adolescents, especially younger ones, experience times of intense energy alternating with periods of extraordinary fatigue.

3. My teen arrived at the breakfast table with spiked fluorescent orange hair, six earrings in each ear, and black lipstick. What should I do?
Say in a calm but firm voice, "You are not leaving the house looking like that and disgracing the family!"

4. My teen is doing the school play and playing soccer. She's really strapped for time, so finding enough time to complete all her schoolwork can be very tough. She asked me if I would type the final copies of her major term papers for her. Should I help her out?
Don't bail her out by doing her work. She needs to experience the natural consequences of over-scheduling herself.

5. My 17 year-old communicates with me through grunts, shoulder shrugs, and the occasional one to three-word sentence. He obviously does not want to talk to me. Should I just stop talking to him unless he starts the conversation?
No, keep talking to him and engaging him in conversation, even if it turns out to be one-sided storytelling on your part.

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