Tips For Parents Helping Troubled Teens
There are many challenges and obstacles to overcome in life. One of the most difficult challenges for parents is helping their struggling children.
When you become a parent, your main goal is to protect and support your child. However, it can be challenging to know what to do when your child is going through a rough phase.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for helping troubled teens — every situation is different. But there are some basic steps that you can follow if you're worried about your teen's behavior.
Remember That It Is A Phase
It is important to understand that acting out is often a normal part of growing up, and it will pass.
While you may be concerned about how much time your child spends in their room or the fact that they have lost interest in doing activities with friends and family members, remember this too is a temporary phase.
The best thing you can do during these times is not to panic or take things personally. Your teenager needs space during this transition — don’t overreact by taking away privileges without explaining why you are doing so.
Communicate With Your Child
When a teen experiences problems, it can be difficult for them to open up to you. This can make it even harder for you to help them solve their problems. However, communicating with your children is essential to helping them through their struggles.
There are several ways that you can communicate effectively with your child:
- Talk about the problems they’re having at home or school. If they feel like they can talk openly with you, it will be easier for you to help them understand what is going on in their lives and why certain things are happening the way they are.
- Make sure your child feels safe when discussing their issues at home or school — otherwise, they may not be comfortable discussing anything personal with you!
- Listen carefully when your child decides to open up to you — don't judge or criticize them. Be careful, not overbearing.
The best way to help your child to open up is to make sure you are available whenever they need you. The best way to do this is through open and honest communication. There are a few ways in which this can be done:
- Tell them about your day and ask them questions about theirs
- Ask questions about what happened at school, work, or in their social life
- Be there for them when they need someone to talk with
- Let them know that you're always ready to listen if they have something on their mind
Choose Your Battles
When trying to help a troubled teen, it can be easy to get into a power struggle. Avoid letting your teenager take over the household — this can be difficult if they are being defiant or making poor choices. However, it may be necessary to maintain peace in your home and keep things manageable for everyone involved.
It’s important that parents set boundaries while also maintaining authority over their children, so they know they are still cared about even if they are not given everything they want every moment of every day.
Don’t Judge Them (or Their Friends)
Set aside your own judgments and preconceptions. You may be inclined to look down on a child who is hanging out with the “wrong crowd” or has made some questionable choices. However, even if they make poor decisions, it is important not to judge them or their friends.
When talking with your child about any difficulties he or she is having with friends, resist the urge to make assumptions about those friends’ character based solely on what you hear from your child.
If a friend does something wrong — like stealing — your child might exaggerate to get sympathy from you (or other authority figures). In this case, talk directly with the friend rather than just assuming that person is “bad news” and taking away his or her place in your home because of one incident of bad behavior.
Be A Good Listener
Listen to your child. When a troubled teen is ready to talk, they may need help figuring out what happened and how they feel about it.
Troubled teens should also be encouraged to share their feelings with trusted adults in their lives, like parents and teachers. Sometimes it helps if these trusted adults can work together on an approach so that the troubled teen knows he or she is not alone in dealing with complex issues.
Don't interrupt when a troubled teen tries to tell his or her story. Instead, listen attentively until they're finished speaking.
Make Sure Your Child Feels Safe At Home
The home environment is one of the most important influences on a teen's behavior. Your child needs to feel safe at home to focus on their future and get help with any problems they might be having.
If you think your child is in danger or hurting themselves, you should immediately reach out to a professional for advice about how best to proceed with safety planning. This can be in the form of a school counselor or a therapist. If you have any concerns about your child's safety at home (emotional or physical), please don’t hesitate to get help.
Look For Warning Signs of Other Problems
Depression and anxiety are common mental health concerns in adolescents, but they can be difficult to identify. Symptoms of depression and anxiety may manifest in various ways, so it is important to be aware of the signs that your child is struggling with.
If you suspect that your teen may be depressed or anxious, here are some signs to look out for:
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Lack of energy or motivation
- Feeling sad and hopeless about life
Because suicidal thoughts and behavior are related to many other issues, it's important to look for changes in a child's overall functioning. For example, if a child becomes more depressed or anxious, has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or has stopped eating their favorite foods or exercising regularly, these may all be signs of something more serious.
If you're concerned your child might be thinking about hurting themselves, talk with them openly and honestly about what they're feeling without judging them or making them feel bad about it.
Seek Professional Help
If you are concerned about your child, seek professional help. Many resources are available to you, such as therapists and doctors working with children and teens. Seek a professional who is familiar with your child's specific needs — and make sure it's someone who can help both of you!
Before meeting with a therapist or doctor, ensure you know what kind of support they provide. Some professionals may offer advice on parenting strategies or family dynamics — others will focus on improving communication between parents and children. At the same time, some will be trained specifically in working with troubled teens.
It’s also important to consider how comfortable the therapist/doctor makes you feel before starting treatment — you want someone who makes sense for both parties involved: yourself and your teen!
Try not to be afraid of the stigma surrounding mental health issues among teens because this may prevent them from getting treatment in general.
If you think that your child might need outside help, don't hesitate to reach out for assistance from professionals who can guide in helping him or her through this difficult time.
We hope this guide has helped you understand what your child is going through and how you can help. It's never too late to reach out to a professional, so if you feel your child needs more support than they are getting from home, please seek professional help.
About Imperial Healing House
Imperial Healing House is a residential treatment center with a home environment for adolescent females ages 12-18. Our typical students have a history of trauma, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. Imperial House is built around pillars of therapeutic support, academic success, tailored nutrition, creative and personal development.