IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) – Teen rebellion is not an easy task to take on as a parent, and at times it can be hard to know what are the appropriate steps to take to help the situation.
“Teen rebellion is what you expect because the teenage years are when you try to figure out ‘okay do I follow my parents? ‘my religion? my community? Their values, their standards their rules? And what do I try my own,’” said Dr. Matt Larsen.
Whether you have teens at home now or have kids on the brink of adolescence, Dr. Matt Larsen, child and adolescent psychiatrist at EIRMC, says learning more about how to spot the difference between teen rebellion and a mental health disorder, can be a great tool for parents.
“All kids and teenagers are going to do things their parents don’t like, they’re gonna break rules, they’re gonna break laws. It’s trying to figure out how big of a reaction do you give? How much do you intervene?” Larsen said.
Larsen defines a mental disorder by focusing on the word disorder. He says, when it disorders life, it’s a problem.
“It’s fine for kids to question religion, change, refuse, change interests, that’s all normal. When suddenly the things they love they can’t do anymore because they’re too anxious or depressed their self-esteem is too low, they’re too scared too worried. That’s when it’s a problem and it needs some professional help probably,” Larsen said.
Teen rebellion and mental health issues don’t only appear at home. Which is why the staff at Idaho Falls School District 91, is using a new strategy to help identify students who need professional help, specifically those who have suicidal thoughts.
The protocol is called QPR and stands for ‘question, persuade, and refer’. The staff is trained to ask appropriate questions, persuade the individual to seek help, and then refer them to someone who could help.
“There are verbal cues, there are behavioral cues, there are situational cues,” Marie Elser said.
The protocol is meant to fill schools with more people looking and listening for those in need of help, something that Marie Elser, elementary school counselor at D91 tells us is important.
“I’ve had five to ten kids already this school year say that they want to die and they want to kill themselves. That’s at the small level, and so as you get to middle school in high school, they’re definitely seeing those,” Elser said.
Smoking, vaping, skipping classes, talking back, keeping secrets, are some examples of how teens might rebel, Larsen says, an important step in any situation is to communicate.
“A lot of history and a lot of science shows you don’t have to be perfect, you have to be good enough as a parent,” Larsen said.
To help you know how to start the conversation and spot the warning signs with your teens, Larsen will be speaking at a free mental health seminar about teen rebellion.
The event will be Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Eagle Rock Middle School.