How to Deal with a Teenager That Doesn't Care

A blank stare, a dismissive look says it all. Your teen just doesn’t care. Nothing you say sinks in and nothing you do sparks any change. Is it defiance, or is it depression? Many parents may wonder how to deal with a teenager that doesn’t care.

Or is this just typical teenage attitude?

As a parent you are at your wits end. You plead, you yell, you bribe—nothing seems to get through to your teen. All the while their grades are slipping. Plus there are other signs of trouble creeping in. Social problems, substance use, and a general loss of interest cause much concern.

It is only normal for a parent to fret over this kind of behavior in their child. Parents devote their heart and soul to the job of raising children. When a child hits the teen years things just seem to go awry. Parents are not equipped for the challenges that pop us during this stage right between childhood and adulthood. Read on for some helpful tips.

Why Doesn’t My Teen Care About Anything?

Is a loud “I don’t care!” the way your teen responds when you warn them of a coming punishment? Is this their response to your threat to take their phone away? To ground them? If it is, then you are not alone. It might just be your teen wanting to defy you, or maybe they really don’t care…about anything.

What makes a teen become apathetic? Why are they acting like nothing brings them joy?

The sulking teen is not all that rare. It could be that they are dealing with some social problems that are making them feel sad or even bullied. The lackluster moods might be hormone related. The teen may simply be bored or lonely.

Teens who sulk and pout might be trying to punish a parent for something, like a divorce or moving. There are many reasons why a teen seems to have check out and stopped caring. This resource will outline the possible aspects of how to deal with a teenager who doesn’t care.

Could it Be Depression?

A key symptom of depression is the loss of interest in things once enjoyed. When a teen suddenly has no interest in activities he or she used to love, that could be depression. The symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless.
  • Changes in eating habits or weight loss or gain in a short time frame.
  • Feeling very fatigued.
  • Sleep problems, like sleeping too much or trouble sleeping.
  • Slowed movements and thinking.
  • Loss of interest.
  • Feelings of guilt or shame.
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

If your teen displays 5 or more of these symptoms that last more than two weeks, they need to be assessed by a mental health worker.

Is it Substance Abuse?

Sometimes a teen begins acting differently; they no longer behave like their usual self. They may begin hanging out with a different crowd. They might be acting sneaky or isolating themselves. They might be avoiding friends or social events. All of these signs could point to substance use.

Some other signs of substance use include:

  • They come home smelling of alcohol or weed.
  • Money is missing from parents’ wallets.
  • Pills missing from the bathroom medicine cabinet.
  • The teen is skipping school.
  • They have constricted pupils (pin dot).
  • They lie to or deceive the parents.
  • They display signs of intoxication.
  • Items found in their room, like drugs, pipes, foil, etc.

If a parent suspects substance abuse they should have the teen examined by a doctor. The doctor can order labs to see if there are any drugs in the system. If they are found to be using a substance, there are teen treatment programs for this age group.

What Are the Warning Signs of Mental Illness?

A lack of emotion can be a concern if other warning signs of a mental health issue are also present. A flat affect, or emotional detachment, is a symptom of some mental health disorders. These include PTSD, borderline personality, and some of the schizoid disorders. Some other red flag symptoms for mental illness include:

  • Indifference to praise.
  • Social avoidance.
  • Self-harm.
  • Lack of pleasure.
  • Neglecting hygiene.
  • Sleep disturbance.
  • Change in appetite.
  • Loss of interest.
  • Very low self esteem.
  • Withdrawn, isolates.
  • Feeling worthless or hopeless.
  • Thought distortions.
  • Mood swings.
  • Angry outbursts.
  • Sudden decline in school performance.
  • Signs of psychosis.

Any sudden, drastic, and abrupt change should be paid attention to. If a cluster of these symptoms is present it is time to have them assessed, first by the doctor. If no health issue is found in the teen, he or she will be referred to a mental health professional.

Tips for Parents With Teens That Just Don’t Care

The number one piece of advice for parents on how to deal with a teenager who doesn’t care is to keep the lines of communication open. Be there for them when they are ready to chat about what bothers them. Ask them if they are okay.

Sometimes the teen is just going through a rough patch in his or her social life and is feeling down. Other times it might be problems at school, such as failing a class. By keeping the lines open between you it is easier to get to the bottom of the problem.

The teen years are indeed a time of great change, often in spurts that throw you off balance. With this phase of growth comes moodiness. Remain attentive and alert so you will be aware if the moods swing wildly, or if the teen seems depressed.

Mood disorders are on the rise among teens. If you suspect your teen is struggling with depression or anxiety, it’s time to visit a doctor for some input. It could be that your teen might benefit from some therapy.

BNI Treatment Centers Residential Teen Mental Health Treatment

BNI Treatment Centers offers cutting edge mental health treatment for teens. With a caring team of doctors and clinicians, BNI is dedicated to helping your teen overcome malaise, apathy, or depression. Contact the team today and arrange for an assessment. Call us at (888) 522-1504.

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