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Home|Mental Health|What to Do When Your Teen Says, “I Don’t Fit In”

Your teenage son or daughter may struggle socially, and complains, “I don’t fit it.” If your teen is have problems making or keeping friends, there is help available.

The teen years are a time when social and relationship skills are developed. Teens learn how to function among their peers, and how to cultivate meaningful friendships. At school, teenagers are encouraged to join clubs, sports, or other groups, which can provide the settings for social growth.

Sometimes, a teen may feel that they just don’t fit in. They can’t seem to find their “tribe.” Some kids are just more introverted by nature, so this may not bother them much. However, when a teen truly wishes to make friends and can’t, it can be very difficult.

It is helpful to be aware of the adverse effects that can arise from this problem. Read on to learn the ways social isolation can impact a teen’s mental health and some solutions.

Why Doesn’t My Teen Fit In?

The teen years are a time of change and each will develop at his or her unique pace. The brain’s executive functions assist with decision-making and emotion regulation and are still evolving. When it comes to social skills, one teen may have better interpersonal skills and coping skills compared to another.

There are many reasons why a teen may have trouble fitting in, or is picked on. These might include:

  • Socioeconomic differences. Kids who are of a different race or economic state than the majority may struggle to be accepted.
  • Socially awkward. Some teens have trouble reading social cues and put themselves in awkward situations. Or, the teen may have odd or quirky behaviors that cause classmates to avoid them.
  • Learning disability. Teens who are academically challenged may be made fun of and rejected by peers.
  • Negative attitude. A teen with a negative attitude is not going to attract friends. Their negative energy puts other kids off.
  • Gender identity issues. A teen that is dealing with gender identity may not feel they fit in with either male or female peers.
  • Obesity. Overweight teens tend to be bullied or avoided.

6 Ways Teens May React When They Feel Rejected

When an adolescent feels excluded by their peer group it can adversely affect their mental health. All kids want to fit in and feel like they belong. When that isn’t happening, it can result in:

1. Low Self-Esteem. Teens who are bullied or feel rejected by their peers may end up with low self-esteem. They begin to feel unworthy or “less than.” Their demeanor and behaviors will suggest that they have a poor sense of self-worth.

2. Depression. Depression is a mental health disorder that can be quite serious. Teen suicides are on the rise, and being bullied is cited as a common reason for it. The usual symptoms of depression are:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless.
  • Change in sleeping habits.
  • Change in eating habits.
  • Anger
  • Loss of interest.
  • Slowed thinking.
  • Trouble making decisions.
  • Feelings of guilt or shame.
  • Fatigue
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

3. Loneliness. Teens are social by nature and like to feel connected to their peers. So, when a teen is not able to make friends or to be accepted they feel lonely and isolated. They may even give up on trying to make friends and begin to withdraw from social settings altogether. This only makes them feel even lonelier.

4. Excessive Social Media Use. Teens who don’t fit in with their peer group may fill their time online. Excessive internet time, whether playing video games or hanging out on social media, only increases their sense of isolation.

5. Truancy. One of the ways teens deal with social problems at school is to avoid school at all costs. Truancy can then lead to a range of adverse consequences for the teen, even legal problems. Also, absenteeism causes a decline in their grades and reduces their chances of going on to college.

6. Substance Abuse. Some teens may begin using drugs or alcohol as a way of self-soothing. They may attempt to numb their emotions through substance abuse, which increases the risk of addiction.

How Parents Can Help Teens that Don’t Fit In

Teens that don’t fit in often adopt unhealthy coping techniques, such as substance abuse or ditching school. These solutions only worsen their quality of life and reduce their chances of success.

Parents that are aware of their teen’s struggle socially can help them to a great degree if they intervene early. Parents can help by keeping lines of communication open, encouraging their children, and validating how they feel.  If the teen makes just one good friend, that may resolve the issue.

However, sometimes these attempts to guide the teen do not seem to work. When this is the case, the teen ends up being truant, depressed or using drugs. These can have serious consequences.

Residential Mental Health Treatment for Teens

When this is the case, parents should consider a residential treatment program. These programs feature small caseloads so the teen receives needed support and treatment. Taking a break from the school setting allows the teen to focus on learning new social skills and coping techniques.

These inpatient programs are geared toward the needs of kids aged 12-17, so interventions feel relevant to the teen. These tailored programs are designed to engage the teen in tending to their own wellness.

Treatment includes:

  • Medical detox if there is a substance use disorder.
  • One-on-one talk therapy.
  • Family therapy.
  • Group sessions.
  • Holistic methods.
  • Psychodrama and art therapy.
  • Experiential activities.

Teen treatment programs also provide tutors and academic support. This helps the teen stay current with their schoolwork while in treatment.

BNI Treatment Centers for Teen Residential Mental Health Treatment

BNI Treatment Centers offers compassionate, expert support for teens that say, “I don’t fit in.” Some teens need special guidance to help them improve their confidence, self-esteem, and social skills. Our teen-centered program is designed to help teens improve socially as well as emotionally. Call us today at (888) 522-1504.

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