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Living with a withdrawn teenager

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Living with a withdrawn teenager


Living with a withdrawn teenager

Hi, our daughter is now 16 and is pretty much a text book difficult teenager.
So very different to the girl we knew just a few years ago. It really feels like we have lost our daughter.

Withdrawn is how I would describe her. We get very little if any conversation out of her. She is consumed with sitting on her phone with headphones on. It is now beyond her to say please, thank you or even happy birthday. It appears we have become her number one enemy. There is a huge amount of anger and resentment but we don’t know why and she refuses to talk to us about it.

We do have a few boundaries which she obviously dislikes but generally she has much freedom and all the home comforts she reasonably needs.

I’m sure those who have been through it get the picture. Common advice seems to be that we should get professional help which I am in the process of arranging.

Any tips and advice would be appreciated.

Also, if anyone has seen a therapist, was it helpful and what type of strategies were offered?

Thanks in advance.

Casual scribe

Re: Living with a withdrawn teenager

Wow this sounds exactly like my 16 year old daughter. She stays in her room all day everyday on her phone with airpods in and not much of a word at all. She doesnt like school and hasnt made any friends. Im sorry i dont have much advice but i do understand and i can relate. I did set her up for therapy at her school so if all else fails maybe try that. Good luck

Star contributor

Re: Living with a withdrawn teenager

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Hi @LadyM  and @Roger . 


We hear from a lot of parents who are worried about their young people at this age- you're definitely not alone, and it's really great to see that you've both been able to connect here. 


The disruptions of COVID have also had a pretty huge impact on young people, especially when it comes to connecting with their friends online/ via their phones, rather than in person - and as a parent, it can be hard to know what behaviour is normal, teenage stuff- and what behaviour is something to be concerned about. I know that my daughter (who's 12, so just at the beginning of the teen rollercoaster!) has definitely been spending more time in her room lately, and more time on screens than we used to be comfortable with - we're currently in lockdown, so part of that is unavoidable. 


To some extent, it's quite normal for young people to want to connect with their friendship group, rather than their parents, as they move through adolescence- but it's also important for parents to know what behaviours might be a sign that something's not going so well with their mental health. 


In general, if you see a sudden change in your child's behaviour, or they stop doing activities that used to bring them joy, if they have trouble sleeping or are suddenly sleeping much more than normal, or if your gut feeling is that something just isn't "right" with them- it may be time to have a chat with them to see if they are OK. As a parent, you know your child best- though I also definitely acknowledge that it's sometimes also really hard to know what is regular teenage moodiness, and what is a sign of something more ! 


 We do hear this question a lot from parents, and we've worked with psychologists as well as parents to develop a few guides to help parents: 


This video is with a psychologist who talks about how to know when your teen needs professional help


This quiz helps parents to work out what type of help might be the best fit for you and your teen


And this is a list of other articles and resources all about how to get teens help, if they do need it


I hope that some of those are helpful for you both- I know that those conversations can also be really tricky to have! Some great advice another parent gave me once was to have those chats while you're doing something with your teen- and I know it's worked really well for me. I find my daughter is much more likely to open up to me when we're doing something together, like going for a drive, having a walk, or even doing the washing up- for some reason it feels much less pressured/ forced. 


Wishing you both the best- keep us posted about how you and your daughters are getting on. It can definitely help to vent sometimes- you're not alone, and this is a really safe place to vent/ get advice Smiley Happy