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Ask the Expert: When to Worry About Your Teen - and What to Do About It!

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Moodiness, rebellion, anger - normal teen behavior or the signs of something more?

As the mom of a teen, it can be hard to tell the difference between common, teenaged growing pains, and warning signs of potential problems.

Dr. Lisa Boesky is here to help!  Dr. Lisa's book When to Worry helps parents distinguish typical teenage behaviors from those that merit concern, and provides strategies for coping with problems. 

Dr. Lisa will be here all next week answering YOUR questions about school problems, teen depression, ADHD, teens and drugs, self-injury and more!

Ask your question today and you could win a copy of When to Worry.  2 moms will win!

Thank you for joining us, Dr. Lisa!



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  • Posts must be made between Thursday, January 5 at 12 pm EST and Sunday, January 15 at 11:59 pm EST.  
  • This contest will end on Sunday, January 15 at 11:59 pm EST. 
  • Two winners will be selected randomly.
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  • Multiple replies are allowed and will increase  your chances of winning.
  • Prizes are only available to members who live in the US or Canada (excluding Quebec).
  • Two winners will receive a copy of "When to Worry"  
by on Jan. 5, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Replies (121-128):
by on Jan. 16, 2012 at 12:53 AM


Quoting dorothy009:

Why would a beautiful 16 year old girl decide to end her life by stepping  in front of a train, This happened today in our area, I nor my son knew this poor girl, But my son is also 16 and I would like to know the warning signs of teen suicide, The rumor going around about this poor girl is that her boyfriend broke up with her. apparently she left school at lunch time and walked 2 blocks to the train tracks. I have talked to my son and told him that no matter what is bothering him that he can always talk to me about it, no matter what it is. I am just worried that I might miss something.

Suicide is always tragic and particularly so when it occurs among our young people. No child is immune, so I applaud you for taking the issue to heart. What you said to your son is the exact right thing. I am not sure if you are referring to the young girl on Staten Island. If so, she was also being cyber-bullied via Facebook and had written some comments on her Facebook page that were big warning signs that she was depressed and potentially suicidal, but her mother was unaware of them and her friends did not respond to them. It is so tragic and could likely could have been prevented.

The following behaviors are important worry signs of teens who may be thinking about ending their lives:

  • Makes statements about suicide, dying, or being "gone."
  • Experiences a deepening of depression.
  • Is curious, fascinated, or preoccupied with death.
  • Talks about feeling inadequate, hopeless, or guilty.
  • Gives away possessions of value.
  • Becomes withdrawn and isolated.
  • Exhibits abrupt personality change.
  • Drops out of usual routine.
  • Neglects hygiene.
  • Engages in self-destructive or risky behavior. 

Most suicidal adolescents give warnings to friends about the desire to take their own lives, but they may also tell parents or other adults. Warnings may be direct, clear statements about their thoughts or plans to kill themselves. Or teens may convey their intentions more subtly and indirectly, which can result in friends and family overlooking their cries for help. The following are common indirect statements made by suicidal youth:

  •  • I won't be a problem for you much longer.
  • • I wish I were dead.
  • • You'd be better off without me.
  • • If a person did __________, would he or she die?
  • • You probably wish I would just die.
  • • It hurts so much, I just can't go on.
  • • I want to go to sleep and never wake up.
  • • Life's just not worth living.
  • • I wish I could disappear forever.
  • • Maybe if I died they would finally see how much they hurt me.
  • • Maybe I should just kill myself-just joking.

Suicidal teens may start asking numerous questions about what death or heaven would be like or inquire whether suicide is a sin. They may write stories, poems, or songs about death, dying, or de- struction; these themes might start appearing in artwork or random doodling. Some suicidal teens are obsessed with television shows that deal with murder, forensic investigations, and gruesome deaths. They may be fascinated by guns, knives, and other weapons or listen to music with morbid and sinister lyrics. Parents need to act before teens are hopeless and talking about suicide. When signs of depression are present for more than a few weeks, adolescents should be evaluated to determine whether professional help is necessary. Teens at highest risk for suicide suffer from the combination of Major Depression (or another mental health disorder), substance abuse, and behavior problems such as aggression or delinquency 



by on Jan. 16, 2012 at 5:28 PM

Hi moms!

Related to this topic, I'm moderating a live blog about whether parents should let their under-age teens drink at home. Should they host these parties? Please join us and tell us what you think tonight at 7pm EDT on Here is the link:

by on Jan. 19, 2012 at 6:56 AM

My 15 yr old son was catch taking a teachers cell phone from her desk and giving it to another student.  He is now on a 10 day suspension from school.  He has never been suspended or in any real trouble before.  As for stealing, this is the first time im aware of, although looking back, he did msteriously "find" things before.

I have arranged my work schedule to be home with him during the next 10 days to keep him busy.  He has lost video games, computer and tv (unless im watching).  Any suggestions?   He says he made a stupid mistake and will never do it again.  I dont know what to

One more thing, i am concerned about what his friends families and his teachers will think of him now.  I wouldnt want a "thief" in my home or classroom.

by on Jan. 31, 2012 at 7:32 PM

slvoss30....I have a 15 year old and have been having the same problem. He used to do really well in school. He's not doing horrible but just doesn't seem to want to put much effort into anything. He has friends in school but doesn't ask to hang out with any of them outside of school nor is he into any sports but goes to school functions that he's into like LAN parties and such. I'm remarried (3 years this October) and he gets along great with my husband I just wish he would show interest in more things. Bottom line is I understand the frustration and I hope everything works out for you with your teenager :)

by on Feb. 1, 2012 at 4:53 PM

My daughter hates school and have a very nast attitude help me please.

by on Feb. 8, 2012 at 4:46 PM


My son is 17 and is a great kid. Over the years he has changed so much. He use to be a kid that was troubled so much I did not know what to do. He never did what I asked and always comlained about having to do anything. Now he is a big helper around the house. We just found out he has a gall bladder that does not work right and he has to take medican for that. He holds all his anger in that sometimes on the school bus he gets mad at the other kids and want to stike out. He talk to is dad and I but we can't get him to control his anger. He does is homework and he makes great grades at school. The other kids make him want to pull his hair out and hit them. I can't get him to not listen to them and find something to listen to on his ipod or read his book on the bus. He is just a kid that don't tune things out and find something to keep his mind busy on the the bus. He is the oldest kid on the bus and he thinks he has to watch out for them all the time. They make him mad and he is tired of it. Please Help!!! 

by on Feb. 9, 2012 at 8:16 PM
Quoting ttcmommy:

My 13 yo son is currently hospitalized for depression, o.d.d., and bipolar. He is refusing to come home saying it is too stressful. I am lost and confused. We have the same rules and expectations for all 5 of our children. All we really ask is they pick up after themselves, they have chores such as take out trash and occasionally do dishes. He spent time with my ex husband over the summer off and on for one week at a time. They had got into a disagreement and stopped speaking. My son confided in me (after telling his counselor) that his father let him consume alcohol to the point of intoxication while he was staying there.
To shorten this story, i am being faced with giving him what he wants and letting him go live with his grandparents or a youth residential facility possibly even foster home.
My husband and I are loving parents and I cant fathom the idea of letting go of any of my children. Im so lost, hurt, confused. This is the toughest and most painful decision i have ever had to make.

I am going through this right now with my daughter. She is living with my mom waiting to get into a residential treatment for adolescents... It's been rough and has caused a lot of trouble in my relationship with my hubby... It's been rough!
by on Feb. 21, 2012 at 11:52 PM
My heart goes out to you and everyone who is faced with this challenge. Since my last post my son has been hospitalized again. Just discharged monday. He says all he wants is to live with his dad now. Against everything i want and feel, i agreed to let him go. Providing that his dad can comply with drs, counseling, school...etc. My son became physically violent toward me before this last hospitalization. I dont want him to continue hurting himself but also fear for our other children.
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