Worrying about the safety and well-being of their child is the one thing that every concerned parent has in common. When a young girl matures and advances into her teen years, it's very normal to make some new friends, feel pressure from this group of friends, and then gain a new sense of independence from this new "family" of hers.
It is at this point that their lack of life-experience and good judgment can get them into serious trouble. This is where the good parent comes in to save the day – Right?
Well, unfortunately, seeing the warning signs often takes more than a day. However, I have compiled a comprehensive go-to list of the 7 warning signs that are pretty much teen girl standard protocol. And with this list, you may be able to save the day before it gets too bumpy.
At the very least, it may help you to take action before she starts abusing drugs and/or alcohol, or worse finds herself in jail. In no particular order of importance, they are as follows:
1) She has a sudden change in peers
Your daughter has had the same set of friends since 4th grade. They played soccer together and danced together. Suddenly she discards them and starts hanging out with friends that you've never met. If she avoids bringing her new group of friends over to meet and hang out with the family, this is a red flag! As a parent you have got to know who she is with. You have to know who her friends are and what influence they have in your child's life.
2) She has declining grades
This is a huge red flag. Truancy is the No. 1 predictor that a boy will have a criminal record, and the No. 2 predictor for girls, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. I'm not talking about an English whiz that may be struggling with Algebra. I'm referring to the student that has been consistently good, and has a sudden drop off in attendance and grades. You have to find out why. It may be bullying, it may be a new school, it may be depression, but there's a reason and it's important to dig until you find out why.
3) Isolates herself from the family
Unless your daughter is normally withdrawn, this is definitely a red flag. This is especially true if she's locking herself in her room, and preferring to be away from family at any cost. She is doing this for a reason and it's important to find out why? It's your job as a parent to identify what's behind the change.
4) She lies and openly displays rebellion
Your daughter may be refusing to play by the rules. Clear defined house rules such as curfews, assigned chores, etc., may be getting ignored. Troubled teens will often lie about their whereabouts and who they've been with. This is obviously a red flag. Is she acting out by yelling, throwing tantrums, or conversely, giving you the silent treatment? She may exhibit hostility toward other family members; Or may be very withdrawn and barely communicative. These are issues that will need to be addressed.
5) She has a diminished interest in hobbies
The activities that she once loved have been dumped. Perhaps she danced or played soccer since a very young age and is now embarrassed by it. It can be frustrating for a parent to watch their child discard their favorite activities usually because of peer pressure. Sometimes kids outgrow their childhood games, and sometimes they get burned-out. Yet it's important to observe the difference between hanging it up, and simply quitting.
6) She has a lack of appreciation for family values
This may look like a sudden disinterest in going to church when she used to enjoy going. Perhaps she fails to comply with the household rules and limits like viewing inappropriate TV shows or movies (especially in the presence of younger siblings). She may find humor in the distress of other family members. She may feel that she is the center of your family and shows blatant disregard for the feelings of other family members, their time, or their possessions. These are all signs to be concerned about.
7) She is experiencing signs of depression
You have to look at all of the pieces, not just this one in isolation. For example, a child who's sleeping a lot may need more rest because they are going through adolescence. But if she is sleeping more than usual or is frequently crying, then it may be something more. Moodiness by itself may not be a red flag, but severe mood swings that seem out of character is something you must pay attention to.
Do not be in denial about what's going on. If you think that these things only happen to other people's kids, you're only fooling yourself. Know what's going on with your child. Especially if there's a history of alcoholism or drug abuse in the family. You have to follow your gut and not abandon the issue.