Teenage Behaviour: Should You Be Concerned?

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Teenage Behaviour: Should You Be Concerned?

Are you a parent that is concerned about your teen’s behavior? Adolescence is a time when parents and their teens can typically be at odds with each other. Teens start to assert their independence, try out different roles and identities, and engage in risk taking behavior. Often parents are left wondering “How do I know when my child’s behavior is a problem and not just normal teenage behavior?”  It is important to know that there are usually warning signs for issues like mental illness, substance abuse and bullying. It is important to watch for the following behaviours, especially if they persist for weeks or months:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • A decline in academic performance
  • Avoiding school and/or social situations
  • Extreme mood swings from depression to mania (see our Fact Sheets to learn more about these conditions)
  • Extreme irritability ending in verbal abuse, physical aggression, self-harm
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in sleep and eating habits (ie. Not eating or sleeping for long periods of time)
  • Frequently losing or stealing money and possessions
  • A disheveled appearance, unexplained injuries, or poor hygiene

Here are some things that you can do if you are concerned about your loved one:

  • Ask your teen questions and let them know you are there to listen
  • Do not criticize or blame your teen if they do start to talk to you about their problems
  • Let them know that you want to help them and that you are going to work with them to get them the right help
  • Talk to your Family Doctor for advice and a referral for an assessment if necessary
  • Educate yourself about signs of mental illness, substance use and bullying

For more information and education, please go to:

MDAO Fact Sheets







If you would like to talk to someone about the behaviours you are seeing, please contact the Coordinator of Family and Youth Programs at MDAO, Leanne Needham, for some guidance and advice.


Leanne Needham,

Family and Youth Coordinator

416-486-8046 or

1-888-486-8236 ext. 300