November is National Runaway Prevention Month, a time that encourages communication between parents and teenagers. According to the National Runaway Switchboard (www.1800runaway.org), here are a few signs that your teen may be thinking about running away:
Changes in Behaviors or Patterns
Teens who suddenly stop eating or begin to overeat, sleep all day or never sleep, spend all their time with their friends or never want to leave their room. Sudden mood swings mean teens are unsettled and restless. They're not coping well with stress.
Dropping grades, truancy, breaking rules at home, picking fights with the family are all symptoms that your child is having problems.
Disclosure of Intentions to Run Away
Some teens will hint that they want to run away and some will outright threaten their family with running. Sometimes their family will hear rumors through friends, school, or other parents that their child is thinking of leaving home.
Accumulation of Money and Possessions
To survive, runaways need money and resources. Some runaways prepare for their run by slowly withdrawing cash from their savings accounts. Keeping a bag or backpack of clothes in the closet might mean they are waiting to make a quick escape.
If you notice any of these signs, talk with your teen clearly and calmly. Invite them to talk with you or someone else about what is troubling them, while finding supportive ways to deal with their stress. Let them know you don’t want them to run away and you’re committed to helping the family work things out. If your teen is intent on running away, give them the phone number of the National Runaway Switchboard (1-800-RUNAWAY) so they can find safe options while out on their own. Tell them they can also use the NRS to stay in touch with you even if they choose not to stay at home.
For more information, visit www.1800runaway.org.