When To Consider Asking for Help

The decision to seek help for your child can be difficult and painful.  You may know that your child has a problem with emotions or behavior.  However, many parents refuse to look honestly at what their child is doing.  They minimize their child's behavior or deny that there is a problem.

These parents may be making excuses for their child, blaming the school, teachers, family, friends, or society.

They may be covering up for their child, lying for their child, and "fixing" any problems the child is in.

They may be giving in to their child's demands and compromising their own values just to keep the peace.

They may feel that their child's rebelliousness is just a normal part of adolescence.

As their child's behavior continues to spiral downward, there will come a time when they realize that their child's behavior is not getting better.  Hopefully, the decision on how best to intervene will still be in the hands of the parents and not with the juvenile justice system.  Hopefully, the child will have not taken self-destruction to the extreme.

Even when parents know they must do something to save their child's life, it is difficult.  Parents and other family members often do not agree on what is best to do.  Siblings, affected by the tension-filled home, may become withdrawn or also act out, and parents feel torn in all directions.

Sometimes there are guilty feelings for family situations, such as separation, divorce, or past family issues.

Parents may also feel isolated, without support from friends or family, and think they have the only family whose child is making poor and life-threatening decisions.  It is difficult and lonely to parent an angry and manipulative child.  Family and friends do not seem to understand this, and parents often conceal the extent of their problems from others.

Even when parents attempt to connect with their child through open and honest communication, the child shuts them out.

There may have been meetings with the child's teachers and other educational professionals.  There may have been consultations with doctors, ministers or rabbis, or other respected adults, but their counsel brought no resolve.

Parents may have taken their child for psychiatric evaluation or for counseling and therapy, but the child would not cooperate and resisted this help.

The situation may seem hopeless but we want you to know that you can help your child and heal your family.

The first step is to take an honest look at your child's behavior.  Then, listen to professionals who have experience working with youth, become informed of your child's issues, be involved by following through on professional advice and treatment plans, and build a support system from family, friends, and self-help groups.


They provide a guide to realizing if your child is at-risk, displaying self-destructive behaviors, and needs your help and intervention.

Is your child angry?

Does your child become belligerent when s/he does not get her/his own way?

Is your child secretive, or have an unusual desire for privacy?

Does your child use abusive language to you and other family members?

Is your child getting in trouble at school?

Have there been problems in school attendance or tardiness?

Is your child failing at school or have grades gone down?

Is your child frequently out late, without your permission?

Does your child have friends who are also making poor decisions?

Does your child associate with troublemakers or have secretive peers?

Has your child started to hang around with older teens or adults?

Is your child frequenting internet chat rooms?

Does your child have new friends and do you know who they are?

Is your child defiant?

Has your child been involved in fights and disturbances in the community or at school?

Is your child sexually active?

Has your child tried to run away?

Does your child deliberately self-injure, or cut markings into his or her skin?

Has your child withdrawn from family activities and family involvement?

Have there been abrupt changes in your child's personality and behavior?

Have your child's eating habits changed?

Does your child break curfew rules or laws?

Do you suspect your child of using drugs or alcohol?

Has your child stolen money from you?

Does your child have unexplained cash, new clothes, or material items?

Has your child destroyed property in your home?

Has there been a change in your child's clothing style?

Has your child been violent at home?

Does your child listen to music with violent, sadistic, degrading, or gangster-influenced lyrics?

Have you ever needed to call the police for help with your child?

How is your child's behavior affecting your work?

How is your child's behavior affecting your marriage, home and family?