Updated on October 1, 2020
How to Deal With a Distant Teen
It’s considered to be normal behavior for a teenager to be emotionally distant as they progress throughout their adolescent years. This is the progression of the teen exploring their independence while learning to deal with their own personal issues. Teens acting distant should be looked at as a common and fixable issue by parents. It’s important to have realistic expectations, analyze the situation, and find solutions to increase the parent and teen involvement.
Many parents complain about their teenager is avoiding family activities, staying in their rooms, or spending excessive time on their cellphones, etc. These can be the first signs that there is an underlying issue that is bothering them. When this distant behavior is not addressed properly, it can hinder the communication lines between the parent and teen.
Reasons for distant behavior can stem from both minor and serious issues within the teen. Teens will commonly deal with issues such as having problems with friends, bullying, and academic problems. More serious issues that can cause an emotionally cut off teenager can include depression, drugs, alcohol, and intense cases of bullying. Sometimes teens believe that their parents can’t understand what they are going through, or are worried that they will disappoint them.
If you’re a parent dealing with a distant teen don’t:
- Start to lecture your teen about being more involved in the family dynamic
- Threaten them with punishments
- Ask repetitive questions
- Display anger or resentment towards them
Instead, try this with your distant teen:
- Make observations instead of asking questions
- Take advantage of informal situations to start a conversation and open the communication lines
- Become familiar with your teen’s friends and interests
- Seek professional help if your teen may be depressed or dealing with an issue that they are uncomfortable talking to you about.
Emotionally distant teenagers do not realize that their behavior is hurting or frustrating their family members. During this self-centered time in life, teenagers are consumed with their own issues and tend to take a dramatic approach to solving their problems. As a parent, it’s not realistic to expect your teenagers to open up to you about all of their issues and problems.
However by making the teen feel comfortable with admitting that something is wrong, or asking for outside help and advice; you might be pleasantly surprised with the improvement in the teen’s daily behavior. If the distant behavior is accompanied by anger, violence, or other harmful behavior; the teen may be dealing with more than just everyday teenage problems. In these cases, it’s crucial to obtain the appropriate help for your teenager to avoid any further issues from occurring.