Becoming a parent has the potential to be one of the most rewarding experiences in a person’s life. Despite its rewards, parenthood often comes with a fair share of challenges. One challenge that many parents must deal with is their children’s behavior. There are numerous behavioral problems that a child could suffer from, from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to becoming a bully, among others. Some children can simply exhibit erratic behavior, which may not appear to be a problem, but it could actually signify an underlying problem.
What does erratic behavior mean?
Most people are relatively predictable. While it is impossible to accurately predict how a person will react in specific situations all the time, if a person knows the other person well enough, then it is safe to say that they will likely be easy to guess how their response will be. However, an erratic person might have frequent mood swings which causes them to respond to situations based on their mood at that particular time.
Determining if your child’s behavior is erratic
During adolescence, your child will undergo a number of changes that will bring about different physical, psychological and emotional alterations. The surge of hormones that occurs during puberty might result in your child behaving erratically at times, although it shouldn’t cause this type of behavior to occur frequently. If your son or daughter seems to be behaving in an erratic manner on a regular basis and you find yourself tip-toeing around him or her for fear of him or her overreacting, then your child likely has an underlying issue.
Reasons for adolescents’ erratic behavior
There are many causes why your child might behave erratically. Here are some common reasons:
Teens, like younger children, are curious and drugs might seem like something “cool” to try. This might be especially true if your son’s or daughter’s friends are pressuring him or her into using drugs. If you suspect that your child might be using drugs, then you need to first ask him or her. Most teens aren’t going to admit that they’re using illegal drugs. If your child denies any drug use but continues to behave erratically, then you might want to start investigating. You might feel like a nosy parent if you check your son’s or daughter’s room, but it is your job to protect your child. If you suspect drug abuse, which could very well seriously harm your child, then you need to do whatever necessary to first of all, confirm drug use, and secondly, help your child stop using drugs.
There are over-the-counter drug tests that you could purchase, but you can also go to your child’s doctor for testing. If your child agrees, then you need to take the drug test immediately. Immediacy is key, as with the abundance of resources available, your teen could obtain a product that will make it impossible to detect drugs even though he or she has been using them.
If your child refuses, then you should immediately inform him or her that it is practically an admission of guilt by not agreeing to take a drug test. Your child might change his or her mind. If not, then you should make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician, even if it’s not time for a checkup. When you make the appointment you should be sure to tell the receptionist why you’re bringing your teen in. That way, when you go for the appointment the doctor will already be aware of the situation.
Just like it’s possible for teens to use drugs, it’s also possible for them to drink alcohol, which could potentially lead to erratic behavior. Although it might be somewhat more challenging for your teen to obtain alcohol, just as teens can find ways to gain access to drugs, they can find ways to obtain alcohol. You need to be sure you aren’t making it easy for your teen to access alcohol. If you or another adult in the household drinks beer, wine or liquor, you need to ensure the alcohol is locked up at all times.
Even if mental illness doesn’t run in your family, you might want to consider it as a possible cause for your teen’s erratic behavior. You will never know if your child is suffering from anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or another other mental illness if you don’t look for signs. You will need to monitor your son or daughter very carefully, which will help you determine whether or not your child needs professional help. If you notice your child displaying the following symptoms, then you need to make an immediate appointment with either a mental health professional or your child’s pediatrician:
- Isolation and withdrawal
- Sadness and crying spells
- Outbursts of anger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Mood swings
- Frequent cuts and bruises
How to handle your child’s erratic behavior
Handling your child’s erratic behavior will depend on the underlying cause. There is no way to fix the problem until you identify why he or she is behaving in such an unpredictable manner. If you have determined that he or she has a problem with drugs or alcohol, then rehab may be necessary. Outpatient therapy is also an option, but of course it will depend on how serious the drug or alcohol problem is. If your child isn’t ready to quit drinking, smoking marijuana or using drugs, then no amount of intervention will help. Nevertheless, your duty as a parent is to keep trying.
Teens with too much spare time on their hands are more apt to get into trouble. Have him or her choose an extracurricular activity to participate in. Give him or her an option of which to choose, but make participation mandatory. If your teen is old enough, you might also want to suggest a part-time job. However, if your teen is using drugs and alcohol, then you need to manage his or her money.
If your child is suffering from a mental illness, then treatment will vary according to his or her diagnosis. The psychiatrist will decide if medication is called for, and there is also the possibility of group, individual and family therapy.
It is also important for you to spend as much time with your child as possible. Regardless of the reason for his or her erratic behavior, it is important that your child has your love, attention and support.
If your child has been exhibiting erratic behavior on a regular basis, then you need to take action to get to the bottom of the behavior problem. He or she could be suffering from an underlying mental illness or even a drug or alcohol problem. With good parenting skills, you can get to the root cause of your child’s erratic behavior so you can permanently put an end to it.