Behavior challenges for a teen can be quite different than are behavior challenges in your children, and because your teenager is bigger (and more vocal!) dealing with those challenges can be demanding and difficult. Time outs and groundings may no longer work when you are dealing with aggression, drug use, risky behaviors or truancy. The following seven tips can help you effectively parent your teen struggling with behavior challenges.
1. Find a way to connect with your teen.
At times, your teen may seem like a stranger to you, but it is essential to find ways to connect with your teen. Meet them on their level and engage them in their own interests. It could be as simple as inviting them to grab dinner with you or sitting down with them to watch their favorite show.
2. Try to see the situation from your child’s perspective.
It’s often easy to react to our own perspectives of a situation, but it may be a helpful strategy to look at the situation from your teen’s perspective. Sometimes, the behaviors may be a cry for help and other times, what is a challenging behavior to you may not be done with the intent you believe it is. Sometimes, challenging behaviors are a sign that your teen is struggling with something completely unrelated. For example, truancy may be a sign that your teen is struggling with bullying, and intense outbursts may be related to depression.
3. Pick your battles.
When it seems like everything is going wrong with your child, it may be easy to start scolding and disciplining over every issue that gets on your nerves. However, when your teen is struggling, it is helpful to pick your battles. If you are facing drug use or legal troubles with your child, arguing over a messy room or a missed chore may add to the family’s tension and take the focus away from getting the help your child needs.
4. Allow your child to experience consequences.
Sometimes, your child’s behavior involves legal or school trouble, and facing the consequences of an evening in jail or suspension may be the wake-up call your teen needs. Of course, there are some consequences you do want to intervene in. For example, if your child is at risk of death, drug addiction or pregnancy, it is important to set different consequences and help your teen avoid these life threatening issues.
5. Be aware of warning signs and have a plan.
It is important to know the warning signs of issues, such as depression, suicidal thoughts or drug addiction and seek help before your child’s life is at risk. Have a plan of who to call and what help to get if you believe your teen is headed down this path.
6. Take care of yourself.
Parenting a struggling teen can be taxing on your own health. As difficult as it is, try to get enough sleep, eat properly, take vitamins and supplements and find time for recreation. Parenting your teen will be easier if you are feeling your best.
7. Seek out professional help.
Sometimes, your teen’s behavior challenges are more than you will be able to handle on your own. In these cases, it is important to know when to seek professional help, such as therapy, therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment centers.
If your teen is facing behavior challenges, give us a call today. We can provide you with a free confidential consultation to determine the best treatment plan for you child. We provide our services at no cost to you and want to help you and your family overcome your struggles and begin to thrive.