Parenting a troubled teen is never easy. Unfortunately, many teenagers go through difficult stages during their adolescent years. This may be due to alcohol or drug abuse, an eating disorder, or other problems that cause tension within the family home.
You must support your teenager through difficult periods and help them transition into a healthy, happy adult.
To help you be the best parent possible, here are three tips for parenting a troubled teen:
1. Identify if there is a problem
When teenagers start transitioning from children into adults, it is normal for them to try to gain their independence and freedom by acting out in certain ways. Typical teenager behaviour may include disobeying rules, staying out late, dressing provocatively, dyeing their hair, and so on. While this behaviour may be frustrating, it’s not usually a cause for concern as most teenagers grow out of these actions as they mature. However, troubled teens will exhibit behaviour beyond that of a normal teenager.
For instance, you should be concerned if your teenager is engaging in risky sexual behaviour, experimenting with drugs, skipping school, or self-harming. These behaviours can all be a sign of a serious underlying problem that needs attention. You must be able to recognise if your child is behaving is a way that is beyond that of typical teenage behaviour.
2. Seek professional help
If you recognise that your teen is going through a difficult time, then you should speak with them and offer support. Remember to be understanding and avoid coming across as judgmental. Often, teenagers are reluctant to discuss their behaviours and feelings with their parents or other adults in their life.
Be patient and try to make your teen feel as comfortable as possible to encourage them to open up to you. If your teenager has a serious condition such as an eating disorder or drug addiction, then you must seek professional help to address their needs and prevent any long term damage. Luckily, there are many specialist clinics, groups, and forums in place to support teenagers suffering from mental health issues. For example, Binge Eating Disorder Treatment LA offers a safe, comfortable environment where teenagers can receive dedicated support to help them overcome binge eating disorders.
Keep in mind that your teenager may be afraid of seeking help and resistant in the beginning. Remind your teen that a professional is equipped with the skills, knowledge, and tools to deal with their needs and help them feel healthy, happy, and more confident.
3. Connect with your troubled teen
Connecting with a troubled teen can be extremely difficult. You may feel like your once smiley, obedient child has been lost forever and replaced with an angry, disrespectful teenager. However, you must maintain your relationship with your teen regardless of how bad their behaviour becomes.
Remember that your teenager still needs your love, attention, and approval – even if they don’t act like it. Face-to-face interaction is the most effective way to connect with your teenager. According to helpguide.org, you should encourage your teen to sit down with you at mealtimes without distractions like smartphones or TVs.
That way, you have the opportunity to communicate openly, while also demonstrating that you’re there for them if they want to talk about any difficulties in their life.