Dear Jacqui, I’m concerned about my teenage son who spends most of the time in his bedroom on screens. He prefers to be isolated rather than engage with people. He is a terrible procrastinator and puts things off to the last minute or avoids doing things altogether. He does well at school if he can be bothered. He communicates if he wants to but often doesn’t. He is very frustrating to deal with.
Here are some tips on how to deal with this:
- Check that your son is not suffering with depression.
- There is often underlying anxiety with this presentation so don’t confront him, rather try to speak to him about things indirectly and gently. If anxiety increases, he will be more avoidant.
- He may be an introvert but also have some underlying social communication and social interaction difficulties, with difficulty knowing what to say to initiate or maintain a conversation due to his own limited interests. He may benefit from an assessment and therapy at my practice.
- Have some basic home rules: Treat everyone with RESPECT; be RESPONSIBLE for yourself and clean up after yourself; COOPERATE with the family (come to meal times at the table); COMMUNICATE what is happening and when someone speaks to you.
- Resist the urge to ‘helicopter parent’ and allow your son to learn from natural consequences with less important issues e.g. if he doesn’t hand in his homework, he gets a detention.
- Often these teens have sensory processing issues and can be quite passive.