These articles written by Dr. Turi appeared in the Coast Star and Ocean Star Newspapers in 2010

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Linda L. Turi, Ph.D. NJ Licensed Psychologist Number: 3736

1111 Arnold Avenue Point Pleasant, NJ 08742



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Contact me at: 732-892-2009


This is normal, right?

Chances are you have wondered if your teen’s behavior is normal.  This thought may cross your mind when you realize you haven’t seen the floor in their room in over a year, you can’t understand how they manage to simultaneously listen to music, text and do their homework - yet noticing when the garbage needs to go out seems impossible. Or perhaps you wonder if they somehow took an online course with F. Lee Bailey since they are now expert at arguing any point at length and treating you like a hostile witness.  You can relax – these are normal behaviors for healthy teens – but as with most things, there are subtle differences between normal and a cause for concern.  The following are two of the most common examples of behaviors that may indicate a problem that needs special attention.

The Blues.  It is common for teens to feel sad or feel that life is not going the way they had planned.  Their moods may turn on a dime. But sometimes the sadness lasts and becomes a true depression. Signs of depression in teens may vary.  It may show up as an increase in irritability, anger, or restlessness rather than sadness and moping.  Withdrawing from their friends and losing interest in the activities they previously enjoyed is another serious warning sign, as are changes in sleep and appetite (too much or too little), changes in concentration or a drop in grades.  Depressed teens may put themselves down or express a sense of hopelessness for their future. If any of these signs continues for two weeks or more, it is time to be concerned. Depression can lead to other serious behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, cutting, and thoughts of suicide.

As a parent, you are the best expert on your child and your gut instincts are typically on target.  If you worry that your teen is depressed, he or she probably is.  If you have any concerns, consider consulting with a licensed therapist who can assess how significant the problem may be and how best to address it.

Too much of a good thing.  Being responsible, studious and ambitious are great things to instill in our children, but for some, especially girls, this drive can go too far and result in significant problems.  If your child stresses over homework and regularly turns down invitations in order to study, this may indicate an unhealthy need for perfection.  Children who are over-focused on success see their efforts as having only two outcomes:  total perfection or utter failure.  There is little room in between, so that a 98 on a test is a failure in their eyes.  A word crossed out or a mistake on a page may lead to starting the whole page over again. 

At the heart of this quest for perfection is the belief that they will never quite measure up. Their perfect behaviors may be aimed at hiding the fact that they see themselves as failures or “bad” people.  Some very lovely,  talented and kindhearted teens have confessed that they believe themselves to be “unlovable”, “freaks”, “outcasts” and “idiots”. Left unchecked, low self-esteem and the quest for perfection may develop into eating disorders, panic attacks, cutting (self-mutilation), and thoughts of suicide.

The first tact parents may take is to limit study time and require more social activities, finding a job, or joining a sports team.  These can be very helpful if the perfection focus is in the early stages; however, sometimes these new activities also become a source of pressure to perform at exceptional levels.

Once past a certain point, the teen may need professional assistance to understand the inaccuracy of their thinking, to find new ways to define success, and to develop more positive ways to think of themselves.  The good new about teens and counseling is that usually a little goes a long way; your child may feel better and their behavior may improve after a few sessions or a few months.   



ers Today
Teenagers Today.

Teens today seem like a different breed from when we were growing up.  None of us  would have argued a point with our parents for hours or days.  I can remember wanting to roll my eyes at my parents’ rules, but I don’t think I ever actually did.

It’s not clear why today’s teens have found a new level of disrespect and audacity.  Maybe it’s due to drastic changes in television and music in recent years. None of the sixties Brady Bunch kids ever rolled their eyes, and Donna Reed’s kids never came home stoned.  Flash forward to the Roseanne, Jackass, and the Jersey Shore – and we have a very different set of role models. 

Regardless of the reason, the truth is that teens today are different and must be met where they are. Changes have appeared across an entire generation, so the challenge for most parents is to realize it is not personal and it is not just your teen.  Keeping this in mind may help to push aside the guilt and the thoughts of, “Where did I go wrong?”

In the face of constant arguing, resistance and disrespect in may be difficult to realize that some things in adolescence never change.  Most teens have one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood and they shift back and forth at lightning speed without any rhyme or reason.  They all want to grow up before they’re ready. They have an intense desperation to fit in – but no real insight on how to do it.  They are still growing and their brains have not yet developed the ability to think into the future and consider the consequences of their actions.  They feel bored and restless and invincible all at the same time.  They need you to slow things down for them. They need you to see the vulnerabilities, predict the consequences, and set limits to protect them from themselves.

The bottom line:  They still need you.  They don’t want to need you – but they do.

Many parents wonder if they should fade back as their child progresses through the teen years.  The challenge is to gradually allow more independence as the child matures, but to stay emotionally connected and very much involved.  It’s important to continue spending some time together even as the teen becomes more oriented to being out and being with friends. When the answer is no, let them know you understand their emotions and how important the issue is to them; but the answer is still no.  Spell out your logic as to why the answer is no. You may still get a groan, an eye roll and a slammed door, but you will have done your job well. 

If they won’t talk to you, talk to them.  Many teens find it very powerful to hear stories about familiar adults when those adults were young.  Tell them about when Uncle John regretted getting drunk in middle school or about when you liked a boy who broke your heart. Or perhaps create a cautionary tale about, “This kid I knew in seventh grade….”  If the story is genuine and has elements of a good struggle between fitting in and doing the right thing, it will hit home for them.
Kids appreciate knowing that they are not alone in the emotions of adolescence. It can be very comforting for them to realize that you or other adults felt the sadness, self-consciousness, hopelessness, awkwardness and frustration – yet managed to survive.  Find stories from your life that say, “I know how you feel, and that feeling won’t last forever.”






Additional Articles By Dr. Turi
Linda L. Turi, Ph.D.

1111 Arnold Avenue, Point Pleasant, NJ 08742 -- 732-892-2009