As the new school year gets underway, it’s a good time to reiterate the warning signs of trouble if you notice a change in your son. It may be typical angst; here’s the difference.
Over the past 20 years I have helped countless male adolescents make the transition from boyhood to adult life with my program, The Quest Project. Some were “in trouble,” some needed what I like to call a nudge to get back on the right track and reestablish who they are.
The Difference of Trouble and Angst
Boys are having a hard time growing up these days. Male adolescents are in crisis and are falling far behind their female counterparts in school and in life. They are failing to learn the lessons they need to survive and thrive in the adult world.
Here are five warning signs that your son may be in trouble.
Sign #1: Anxiety
If he’s displaying an unusual amount of anxiety (nervousness, fear, apprehension and worry). If he’s anxious on a continuous basis pay close attention, it’s a serious matter. If left untreated, chronic anxiety can lead to obsessive-compulsive behavior. Anxiety will affect the way he behaves, and if not dealt with can turn into real physical symptoms.
Sign #2: Drugs or Alcohol
Many boys don’t know how to deal with the pain that comes with adolescence. They often turn to drugs and alcohol for relief. He may think it’s no big deal to party or rebel against your rules, but substance abuse does not make the pain go away. Get him in a treatment program; once completed follow up with a good counseling regimen. Be sure to do your research and find a counselor that specializes in working with male adolescents; I recommend someone similar to myself, and a program like The Quest Project®.
Sign #3: Isolating himself
Extreme isolating and withdrawing from family and friends is unhealthy and a sign he’s troubled. He needs exposure to healthy, mature and responsible men. There are various organizations to get him involved in, church groups, sports, volunteering in the community, etc. Help him find what works best for him. The goal is to interact with more people and get the support he needs.
Sign #4: Feels misunderstood: “you don’t understand what I’m going through”
Certainly, it’s not unusual for adolescents to feel they’re misunderstood. First think back to when you were his age. Have a conversation. “I know things are changing for you, and that you’re no longer a little boy, I want you to know that I can see it…I went through it too!” Even when he rolls his eyes at you (which he will), what matters is that he knows you validate and understand what he’s going through; do that by saying “I hear you!”
Sign #5: No sense of direction
Remind him of his achievements. Honor his “unique self” and allow him to be himself; watch him soar! If he falls, help him up, brush it off and start over. Focus on the things he does well, not on what he does that’s not so good. Every time he meets and exceeds expectations, let him know you noticed. If you do this, you help him build a healthy foundation and continue a path of achievement.
I believe if you keep these five signs in mind and take appropriate action you can help your son avoid serious “trouble.” My mission: “To create healthy lifestyles by teaching, facilitating, writing, research and example.”
Want more help and insight? If you’re local, call (314)640-1553 to schedule an appointment.
Remember you can pick up a copy of “Saving Our Sons” or “Generation of Men,” on Amazon!