When to intervene in your teen's social life

Here are signs your teen may be using drugs or engaged in risky behavior and what to do about it. Learn the red flags for addiction and how to talk to your teen about the "tough stuff.

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  • As a parent of a teen, when she begins shouting like a 2-year old it's tempting to just walk away and give up. But don't. Hang on. Here is what Erin shared with me, and what every mother wants to hear, "I was trying to hurt mom the way I felt she was hurting me. Whether it was about dating or friends, I was grateful for her intervention years later." Every parent's secret wish is that someday their teen will hopefully understand.

  • Here is a list of signs indicating it is time to worry about your teen. Shannon gathered this list while working as a domestic, sexual assault and trauma recovery specialist assigned to work with teens and moms. This list includes red flags or behaviors that cannot be ignored. If you find your teen on this list, we recommend you seek professional counseling.

  • Signs your teen may be involved in

  • Drugs and Alcohol

    1. You smell alcohol, or the smell of burnt rope or marijuana on your teen's breath, especially in the morning, or during the daytime hours.

    2. Your teen's speech is slurred, or he is overly talkative and loud, staggering or clumsy.

    3. Their eyes are pinpoint or dilated.

    4. Burn marks on their lips. Lighters, small torches, broken pens or rolled dollar bills indicate substances that can be smoked like methamphetamines.

    5. Injection sites hidden between toes or fingers, new or homemade tattoos, nodding off and lethargy all show heroine — the new teen drug of choice.

    6. New or changed secretive behavior, new friends, people dropping things off or just stopping by to pick something up.

    7. Drugs may be hidden in your home but may also be hidden in the yard, or in a vehicle.

  • Risky sexual behavior

    1. Increased online chatting, texting, secretive calls and pornography.

    2. Secretive behavior.

    3. Changes in friends and interests.

    4. Inappropriate dress or changes in clothing.

    5. Sending photos online or texting images of their body.

    6. Sneaking out to meet people and not being forthcoming about who they are with.

    7. Teens who choke each other out and use other methods to increase the thrill.

  • Thrill seeking

    1. Teens who take the cinnamon or salt challenge or play suffocation games.

    2. Teens who play with weapons, guns or knives.

    3. Unexplained bruises, scars and injuries.

    4. Broken or unexplained bicycles and other equipment.

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  • How to talk to your teens about your concerns

  • 1. Show how much you love them before trouble starts

  • You can tell them all day long, and they may believe you. But showing your teens love will make sure they know. A little note on the seat of their car, a cup of cocoa and a talk after a date. Find their love language and let them know they are loved. It's easier to endure the parental interference if they know you're doing it out of love.

  • 2. Show trust and plan for success

  • Give your teen every opportunity to be trusted and do the right thing. When problem's arise, ask her what she should do or could have done differently. Give him the chance to think through his problems and recognize he can make other choices.

  • 3. Ask them what the consequences should be

  • When you find that they have made a mistake, as them what the consequences should be. You might be surprised at how hard they are on themselves.

  • 4. Set limits, boundaries and guidelines

  • No teen likes rules, but whether she admits it or not, she likes to know where the boundaries lie. Even if it's just so he can push the limit. Teens will test you. Be firm with the consequences. However, remember every child needs extra love after a consequence. The reaffirmation of your acceptance and love tells him he is forgiven and can try again.

  • 5. Choose your battles

  • . Teens make many, many mistakes. If you focus on each one, you will overwhelm them. Choose the most important issue and try to focus solely on that, or just a few issues at a time.

  • 6.Let them been teens

  • Teens will be goofy and crazy and a little strange. Accept them for their quirky selves.

  • 4. When it's time to interfere, choose your moment

  • When you suspect your child may be doing something he shouldn't, create the right moment to ask. Do your best to plan positive moments for difficult conversations, like a walk on the beach. If you can wait, schedule a time and let your teen know you need to talk to him.

  • 5. Set boundaries for yourself

  • When the moment comes to talk or interfere with your teen, set rules for yourself. The great thing about having a teen is that if you don't like how she is acting you don't have to give her a time out. You can drive away and give yourself a break. Know when you have reached your stress max and walk away.

  • Without fail, every parent of a teen experiences a moment when she must rise to the challenge and say "no" to her teen. Develop a positive relationship with your teen so hard talks aren't the only talks you have.

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Shannon and Erin are a mother and daughter with lots of children and Utah and Oregon roots.

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