They’re staying out past their curfew

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One thing to be mindful of when feeling like your child is going off the rails is if the signs they exhibit are actually just normal adolescents signs. Children like to rebel, it’s their way of learning how to navigate the world and challenge authority. It’s when things like staying out past their curfew are coupled with some of the other signs in this list that you really need to consider their behavior.

They’ve been in trouble with the police

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Have you had a knock on the door from the police after your child has committed an offence? Maybe it was minor, they were never charged or questioned, just a warning about how their behavior is disrupting society. It’s one of the most important signs on this list; children that engage in such illegal and risky behaviors are feeling challenged.

They keep getting into fights

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Your child keeps coming home with bruises, black eyes, chunks of hair missing, cuts on their face, but when you ask what happened they won’t actually tell you. While it’s easier said than done, try to talk to your child in a respectful, level-headed way to see if they will open up to you.

They’ve ditched their childhood best friend

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Quite often children have that one childhood best friend that was always a good influence and has been in their life for years. However, if you’ve noticed that just recently your child has cut off this long-term best friend, you might want to ask yourself whether there’s something more major going on in their life.

They disrespect your rules

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Your child has just recently become more rebellious to the rules you set out in your home. This might be not pulling their weight with chores, disrespecting your belongings, trashing their room, keeping people awake. It might be normal for adolescents to exhibit these behaviors, but you should always be aware about what they might be going through.

Their mood has changed significantly

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Your child was always joyful when they were younger. Their smile was infectious and they were never down or anxious. But suddenly, your child’s mood and attitude has changed. They’re hostile, down, sensitive. It could be a sign that your child is heading off the rails.

They sleep all the time

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You just can’t seem to get your child out of bed, no matter how hard you try. All they want to do is sleep. Sleeping too much can actually be a sign of depression. Maybe they are trying to escape their life and feel their only solace is sleeping. Offer your concern to them and try to help.

They give you backchat

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Backchat can get your riled up, that’s for sure. So when you ask for something to be done, or are even asking a simple question, the backchat they give you rubs you up the wrong way. Why might they be resenting you at the minute? Why do you think they are obsessed with challenging authority?

They’ve stopped getting up for school

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Your child might have always hated or loved school, but just recently you’ve noticed that they simply won’t get up for it. They miss the school bus regularly, which means you have to drive them in, disrupting your day. What’s going on in their academic life that might be making them feel this way?

They’re always lying

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You might have noticed that your child is just obsessed with lying. At this point, they’re lying about things they don’t even need to lie about. It might be a way for them to close themselves off to the rest of the world, especially their parents. While you might just want to pick apart their lies, try to think of another way to get through to your child.

They’re quick to lash out

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Lashing out is a normal behavior, especially for children going through puberty. But you might’ve noticed that your child is lashing out over things that are menial, or disrespecting their elders, teachers, family. What might be making them feel this way and how can you get them to see the danger of their actions?

They don’t eat properly anymore

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If you’re child is going through something quite traumatic that is making them feel down and anxious, one of the things they might not want to do is eat. Our moods and anxieties directly affect our appetite, meaning that the last thing they are thinking about doing is eating your home-cooked meals.

They’re making risky decisions

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One of the biggest temptations for children, especially teens, is participating in risk taking behaviors. This could be abusing drugs, drink driving, getting into trouble with the law. It’s their way of chasing an exhilarating feeling that helps them to escape the bore of their day to day lives.

They take things without asking

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You’ve noticed that chunks of money have gone missing from your purse, or that your favorite eye shadow has gone AWOL. Well, your child might be the one behind it. Your child knows that taking belongings from others without asking is a terrible thing to do, and points to them going off the rails.

They eat too much now

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While we’ve already mentioned that your child’s appetite has diminished, you might also notice that they’re overeating, using food as a way to process their emotions and feel comfortable. Instead of putting them on a strict diet, try and talk to them on their level to see what the causes might be before it’s too late.

They’ve become manipulative and controlling

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Your child has resorted to extreme behaviors like trying to manipulate you into doing stuff for them or giving into their requests. They use spite to control you, trying to make you feel guilty for mistakes you’ve made in the past, and they don’t care how you feel.

They go out to parties too often

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It’s fine for children to head out to parties and in moderation it can actually be healthy for them to head out and socialize. However, there comes a point where heading to parties and having a drink becomes unhealthy, where children are heading to parties despite the responsibilities they have the next day.

They’ve stopped doing the things they used to enjoy

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You might have noticed that your child has stopped doing the things they loved to do when they were younger. That could be taking part in sport, reading, art, playing games. Now, they neglect these things and never seem fully content with what they are doing.

They don’t think about the consequences of their actions

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It’s normal for our children to become inconsiderate at times and neglect to think about the consequences of their actions. Mistakes are made and that’s fine. But it becomes a problem when children continue to take part in harmful behaviors, despite knowing the outcome, but seeming not to care.

They’re flunking their grades

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Your child might have been really brain at some point at school, but now they continue to flunk their grades without a reasonable explanation why. They’re neglecting their homework and don’t participate enough in class, meaning that their grades are falling behind as a result.

You know they’ve been taking drugs

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Drug taking is extremely dangerous, especially for the impressionable minds of children. Whether they’ve been pressured into it or not, taking part in drugs is the beginning of a slippery slope. You will want to make sure that you have this situation under control before it gets out of hand.

They’ve quit their job

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Some children work weekend or evening jobs in order to earn themselves some extra bucks. However, what happens when they suddenly quit their job without reason? It might be the beginning of your child throwing their life into chaos, before eventually going off the rails completely.

They’re isolating themselves from you

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While your child might have used to open up to you freely, without shame or boundaries, now they don’t. Instead, they’ve begun to isolate themselves from you, locking themselves away in their bedroom, spending prolonged periods out of the house. Consider what you could do differently in your parenting style to fully get through to them.

They’ve stopped seeing their friends

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Your child might have had a really supportive group of friends that suddenly they don’t see anymore. They’ve never given you a reason why and it upsets you that they are spending so much time alone. Consider taking the time out to speak to them on a respectful level to see if there is anything that can be done.

They’ve started hanging out with the wrong sort

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In the aftermath of your child losing contact with their long-term friends, they have turned to others, who are more chaotic, rebellious and inconsiderate. It might bother you that your child is hanging around with this sort, but you shouldn’t restrict them from doing it. Instead, you should just try to make them aware of the impact of their dangerous behaviors.

They’re showing signs of depression

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One of the main reasons for children going off the rails is depression. Depression can be debilitating for some, and not allow them to see the consequences of risk-taking behaviors. If you think your child might be going through depression, you should actively seek some professional help.

They keep on running away

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Children can become fed of being cooped in their home and after an argument with you might run away for the night. However, if you’ve noticed this kind of behavior becoming more frequent, it’s possible that they are already on their way to going off the rails.

They don’t listen to your requests anymore

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Your child used to respect your requests, but now they don’t. They never do anything that you ask and even sometimes actively go out of their way to avoid doing what you’ve asked of them. Consider trying to ask them in different ways, make them feel like they have a choice in the matter.

They are participating in illegal activities

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If your child is participating in illegal activities like joyriding, robbery, drug-dealing, then they are likely further down the rabbit hole than you thought. It might be time to seek some additional help in order to get your child back safely on the right track.

Trust Your Instincts

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Finally, the biggest thing we can say when trying to spot the signs of your child going off the rails is that you should trust your instincts. While it might be normal behavior that they are exhibiting, if you have a gut instinct that more is going on, listen to it, and get two steps ahead.