19 Signs of a Troubled Teenager

Teenage years and teenage problems can be rough for parents and teens alike. As teens make mistakes, learn, and develop the skills necessary to be an independent, autonomous adult, it can seem like they are on an emotional roller coaster. Some behaviors that teens display are normal, such as mood swings, increased peer influence, and a changing appearance. There are always going to be typical teenage problems and behaviors. As teens strive for more independence and explore their own opinions, arguments with family members and struggling for more freedom are not uncommon; however, there are some red flags indicating that your teen may be in trouble that every parent should be aware of.

Wilderness therapy is a process. Healing takes time and effort, but with the right tools and the right treatment plan, recovery is possible!

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While teens are likely to turn to their friends rather than their parents for advice on making choices, a sudden change in their entire peer group could be a red flag - especially if the newfound friends are having a negative influence. Teens may want to express their newfound individuality by dying their hair or trying a new style of clothing; however, an extreme change in appearance - such as an extreme weight loss or gain - could signify that this is outside the scope of normal teenage behavior. Here are some other warning signs of a troubled teenager:

  • Secretive behavior, deception, or lying
  • Unexpected/unexplainable decreased or failing academic performance
  • Spending too much time sleeping
  • Excessive electronics usage (internet, video games, social media, etc.)
  • Significant changes in appetite or eating patterns (skipping meals, avoiding food, hoarding food, binge eating, or emotionally eating)
  • Excessive Isolation
  • Regularly missing curfew
  • Stealing
  • Skipping school
  • Body image issues
  • Promiscuity
  • Significant disregard for personal hygiene
  • Withdrawal from favorite sports or activities
  • Excessive outbursts
  • Self-injury (cutting or burning) or mentioning hurting him or herself
  • Extreme defiance
  • Bullying others
  • Experimenting with alcohol and drugs
  • Loss of self-esteem/extreme self-loathing
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If a teen is displaying some of these warning signs, his or her issues may go beyond the scope of typical teenage problems. It could be time to think about an appropriate treatment program, as these could be signs of a mental illness like depression, substance abuse problem, or eating disorder. Having these issues evaluated and treated by reputable professionals who utilize up to date approaches is essential to helping your teen continue their growth to a healthy, successful adult life.

Visit our article Boot Camp for Teens: Is There a More Effective Solution? to learn more about healthy, effective solutions to help teenagers and young adults through their challenges.

Is Wilderness Therapy Right for Your Teen?

About RedCliff Ascent Wilderness Therapy Program

RedCliff Ascent offers safe, effective, and clinically-sophisticated options to treat troubled young adults and teenagers.

RedCliff Ascent’s Wilderness Adventure Therapy program was uniquely crafted to assist students and their families in creating lasting, life-long emotional changes through compassionate, intentional, research-backed, and safe outdoor adventure therapy programs. The professionals at RedCliff Ascent understand individuals don’t come with instructions, and every student is unique, capable, and amazing in their own right.

RedCliff Ascent focuses on helping at-risk youth and their families through difficulties that occur when various behavioral, cognitive, or developmental issues are present. Research shows that engaging individuals on a personal level with strategic and intentional activities will aid in developing the tools and skills necessary to engage life in a healthy and positive way.

Is RedCliff Ascent The Right Fit?

We’ll help you explore your options and guide you through the process.

I’d like to let you know how delighted I am with the RedCliff program and how impressive the hard work and dedication of the staff is…We feel that your program has very probably saved this child’s life and given us back our son…

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We have nothing but respect and appreciation for your program

James and Elizabeth

… RedCliff was a real turning point for John. If we had sent John to a more traditional treatment program, we would not have had these results…


… Even though sending her to RedCliff was a gut-wrenching decision, we know we did the right thing. We are thankful for the help and insight you gave to her and us…

Clark and Irene

You have an awesome program! We’re so grateful for the difference it has made in Alec’s life.


I’m writing because I didn’t know any other way to say thank you! I was a student at RCA…


I just wanted to thank RedCliff Ascent from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done for me. Who knows where my life would have taken me without the guidance and support...


I just wanted to say thank you for the most rewarding and life-altering experiences of my life. I am now going to college in Oregon and I am studying Criminology and Criminal Justice. And I would not be where I am today if it were not for this program, so thank you.


3 Easy Steps to Start Healing

  • 1.

    Take Our Online Assessment

  • 2.

    Talk To An Program Specialist

  • 3.

    Find Out If Our Program Will Help Your Teen