Posted on: February 3, 2009 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 2

Everyone has gone through the phase of teenage angst. Adolescence and young adulthood can be a very troubling and significant change for people, especially when teenagers start to accept new responsibilities and understand the world in a whole new different light. Some people go through growing pains without much of a hitch, but some teenagers can be rebellious, or pose a threat to themselves or to other people. Dealing with troubled teens iis a big challenge for even the most tolerant and level-headed parents. Here are some ways you can deal with troubled teens.

It’s Just A Phase, But It Will Last

Most parents are quite permissive, and think that the troubled phases of their teenage children are “just a phase.” You can only consider it “just a phase” if all teenagers go through emotionally troubled episodes, but this is simply not the case. Not all teenagers rebel, harm others or themselves, or show antisocial tendencies. When not addressed properly, the troubling thoughts of a teenager can develop into serious emotional and mental disorders.

Adolescence is an important phase in forming your child’s values, principles, and sense of right and wrong by the time he or she grows up to be an adult. As a parent, you should take steps to ensure that your teenager grows up to be a responsible adult.

Talk About It

The worst thing you can do as a parent is to live in denial. Talk to your children about their problems. When did they start smoking or drinking? When did they start experimenting with sex? Why are they angry all the time? Why does he or she slash her wrists with a razor blade? Don’t assume that you know more about your children than they know themselves. Your troubled teenager may have problems that you don’t know about.

If your child has problems talking to you, you may need to seek the help of a psychologist or therapist. Talking is a great form of therapy and release, especially if your child has a problem expressing himself or herself.

Spend Time With Your Children

Troubled teens often come from broken and troubled families. Divorce, financial problems, arguments, and a lack of attention all contribute to a teenager’s problems with self-concept and self-esteem. Oftentimes, there’s very little you can do if you’re a single parent, or if your finances are in dire straits. The best thing you can do is to be there for your child in his or her hour of need. Here are some ways you can use to approach your troubled teenager:

  • Don’t try to “feel like a teenager.” You’ll only end up humiliating your child further if you try to participate in activities he or she enjoys with her friends.
  • Don’t treat them like children. Teenagers don’t like it if you’re overprotective, especially if you keep on treating them like babies. Give them some leeway to form their own ideals and self-concept, but you should not be so permissive that you allow your child to self-destruct.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of wholesome family entertainment. An afternoon at the movies, a weekend trip to the beach, or even an evening of watching TV is a great way to bond with your teenager.

Be Supportive, But Realistic

Troubled teens always seek acceptance and attention. Your child may be frustrated with school, friends, romance, or other goals he or she is unable to reach. Even if he or she rejects your attention or care, there will come a time that he or she will look for it.

Instead of pressuring your child to excel or to move forward, you should be supportive of his or her goals and plans. Being supportive doesn’t mean that you should shower your child with praises. Set realistic goals that can be realized. While you don’t want your child to underachieve, the feeling is much worse if he or she tries to set a really high goal, and ends up not measuring up to their own standards and expectations.

Give the Reality Check

Sometimes being nice doesn’t work with troubled teens. The problem with some teenagers is that they think the world revolves around them. Some may even think that everyone should understand their problems, no matter how selfish or egotistical they may seem. A troubled teen often needs that reality check to remind himself or herself about responsible behavior. You need to remind your child that:

  • He or she is not at the center of the universe, and people need to address problems and issues on their own.
  • He or she is old enough to take charge of his or her own life; if he or she no longer acts like a little kid, then you’ll stop treating him or her like a little kid.
  • He or she knows that all actions have consequences.

If you keep on tolerating your child’s self-destructive behavior and dismiss it as a “phase,” then you and your child may end up with more problems than you’re both willing to take. You may need to get rid of those violent movies and video games, or enforce a curfew. Make sure that you don’t stifle your child’s growth whenever you enforce disciplinary measures.

Give the Gut Check

Some troubled teens may threaten to run away from home, and end up having rebellious behavior. If this happens, teach your child a lesson in independence. Have him or her control the family’s daily budget for a week, or give him or her a hundred dollars to try and see if he or she can really make it out the world with that kind of behavior.

Another useful gut check is to let your child make day-to-day decisions about his or her own life. Make him or her realize that you won’t be around forever, and there are decisions your child will have to make on his or her own. A little bit of reverse psychology helps, especially if your child thinks that he or she can do a better job of taking care of himself or herself than you do.

Coordinate With Your Child’s Teachers

Your child spends more time at school than at home. His or her teachers should always be on the lookout for failing grades, attendance, or behavior on campus. Your child may be hanging out with the wrong group of friends, may be exposed to bad influences and vices, or may be playing hooky. Coordinate with your child’s teachers to see if he or she behaves at her best. If your child has problems at school, talk to the teacher and seek help with the school guidance counselor.

Summer camp is also a great way for your child to learn about responsibilities. Many non-profit organizations conduct annual camps for troubled teens. Camps are usually run by reformed troubled children, and they can share their own personal experiences with your kid over a campfire.

Call the Authorities

If your child is doing drugs or is engaged in violent and antisocial behavior, then you may have no choice but to call the authorities. When your kid becomes a threat to society, you have to turn him or her in. It may be a painful process, but remember that all consequences have actions. If your child is a minor, there are juvenile rehabilitation facilities available to help reform your child.

Step Away

Sometimes the best thing that you can do is to respect your child’s wishes and leave him or her alone. There will come a time that your child will realize the error of his or her ways, and try his or her best to make amends and put everything back on track.

As a parent, you should exert all the effort you can to correct your child’s bad behavior. Think of that troubled teen phase as a true test of your love, care, and affection for your child.

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2 People reacted on this

  1. Disaffected teens – a novel insight

    Teenagers and their troubles are rarely out of the news. Former head teacher Peter Inson sets out clearly the problems they cause, and the problems they face, in ways that are reassuring for teenagers and revealing for adults. “dunno,” his first novel, has won him a British Arts Council Award and many reviewers have praised the book for its insight into the teenage psyche. Five years on the book is still selling and still attracting good reviews.

    An American reviewer wrote:
    dunno – a starkly honest novel about a 15-year-old named Jon who lives a hopeless and bleak existence on the edge of society; he has no hope and no conscience. This novel is too honest to paint too rosy colored a picture at the end of the book. Jon doesn’t find a compelling teacher that makes him decide school is great. He doesn’t come into a great deal of money. He and his mother don’t fall into a Leave It to Beaver pattern. That’s what makes this an interesting novel. Jon is lost, but so are the adults — those who’d like to help him and those who could care less.

    Peter has written for the British press: about truants for The Guardian, about boarding schools for The Daily Telegraph, about spies in the classroom for The Times and about teachers’ strikes and independent schools for The Daily Express. He has written for The Independent on a variety of topics, from the lowering of the school leaving age to parents’ rights to chastise children, as well as for The Times Educational Supplement, The Tablet, Swiss News and The Famer’s Weekly.


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