First Steps in Helping Troubled Teens from Home Before Seeking Other Treatment

First Steps in Helping Troubled Teens from Home Before Seeking Other Treatment

Parenting challenges even the best of us. Each stage offers new adversities, and leading a child through adolescence tests a parent in many complex ways. To understand how to help teens, you must understand the nuances of the task. Dr. Steven Dowshen explains that negative changes in behavior and changes in identity highlight seeking independence as teens learn who they are. However, drastic, wild and dangerous changes pass the normalcy of adolescent growth. Though teens must find their own moral code through trial and error, parents struggle to find a difficult balance in managing growth and abnormality and face tough decisions about what to do.

Proactive Steps to Take

Sometimes, wisdom comes from the oddest places. The tagline for GI Joe’s cartoon years ago speaks volumes here: “Knowing is half the battle.” Education, which never ends, serves you when raising teens, and it never ends. Keeping up with the newest fads, challenges, drugs, and culture serves parents well, as they can anticipate problems before they arise. Knowing this, Robyn Warner M.S. suggests that parents talk to their kids about the following topics:

  • Drugs,
  • Alcohol,
  • Smoking,
  • Sexuality,
  • Relationships,
  • Spirituality,
  • School,
  • Plans for the future,
  • Money,
  • Entertainment and
  • Other topics that are important to your teen.

They might not talk unless you listen first, which creates a challenge. Instead of lecturing or arguing, ask questions. Ask what they think about these topics. Give them a voice. Once the lecture begins, they might shut you out, but if they have a voice, you succeed in entering in their world. Model temperance with your child by keeping your cool in conversations. If you blow up, they mimic that behavior.

Dr. Dowshen also advises you to put yourself in your child’s place, causing empathy. After all, you were once a teen as well although verbally reminding your teen about this proves counterproductive. As you look back, you’ll remember petty worthless fights with your parents. As a parent now, learn from those experiences and pick your battles. A change in hair, nails or dress is less important than finding drugs in their underwear drawer. The changes are still worth discussing but might not be worth a fight. For example, you might start a conversation with “So, why did you choose green hair instead of blond or auburn?” instead of with “Dye your hair back to brown right now, young lady!”

Additional Tips

  • Respect kids’ privacy as a matter of trust. Communicate that you trust your teen, but if that trust is broken, they will have less freedom.
  • Do monitor what kids see and read for their own safety, especially on the internet. The following rules enhance that safety: Don’t share personal information or passwords. Don’t get together with someone you meet online. Don’t gossip, bully or damage someone’s reputation. Don’t text or chat on the phone while driving. Talk to a trusted adult if an interaction or message makes you uncomfortable.
  • Parents battle with the balance of freedom and rules, but appropriate, reasonable rules actually show that you care.
  • Keep rules concise and written to avoid forgetfulness; both intentional and accidental.
  • Explain your decisions.
  • Be flexible.
  • Setting the rules gives guidance but proves ineffective without enforcing consequences.
  • Hold a conversation with your child about the consequences of their actions only when they are acting mature. Refuse to talk to them when they are displaying negative behaviors, such as rage or the silent treatment. Remember to keep yourself calm as well. Asking them about the appropriate consequence might be a good method as they own their behaviors. In this way, they are more likely to accept their own ideas.

Consider Professional Care

Know the warning signs:

  • Extreme weight gain or loss,
  • Sleep problems,
  • Rapid and drastic changes in personality,
  • Sudden change in friends,
  • Skipping school often,
  • Falling grades,
  • Talk or even jokes about suicide,
  • Signs of tobacco, alcohol, or drug use and
  • Run-ins with the law.

If one or more of these types of drastic changes occur, you might need to seek professional help. Keep in mind that drugs, crime and suicidal ideation need to be immediately dealt with by professionals. If you aren’t sure if higher care is right for your teen, a phone call to their doctor could help with that decision.

Love your kids and let them know it instead of assuming that they know.

Speak Your Mind