Troubled teens engage in all kinds of harsh behaviors that might begin as early as middle school. These tough years can mean difficult parenting challenges as you struggle to help your adolescent successfully navigate through these stages.
Understanding the Teen Brain
We often think of teens as miniature adults. After all, they are often fully grown, towering over their parents in size and stature. However, just because they look like adults doesn’t mean that they have the decision-making skills or the impulse control that comes with maturity. Studies have shown that their brains are still growing, which means they can easily become involved in in risky behaviors, such as drinking, drug use, speeding, illegal behavior or engaging in unprotected sex. You might try the following suggestions if you are dealing with unwanted behaviors in your home.
- Set Clear and Firm Boundaries - You might have rules in your home, but if you don’t set and stick to consequences, your teen will push the limits and cross them every time. He or she needs to understand what will happen if they break the rules. Match the violation to the discipline. For example, if your teen doesn’t make curfew, he can’t go out the next weekend. Remind him that when he chooses the behavior, he chooses the consequence.
- Write Down Expectations - If you write it down or type it up, your teen will have no excuse to say that he doesn’t understand. In some cases, you can even have him sign a list of expectations or a behavior contract and keep it posted in plain view.
- Agree with Your Partner - Whether or not you are a couple, you are parents who need to work together. If your teen thinks that one of you will always cave, he will look for the weakest link.
- Choose Your Battles - Consider being flexible about things you don't normally like. You can give a little when it comes to the teens choice of hairstyle because this is something that will change often. However, stay firm about safe driving habits and forbidding substance abuse.
- Model Expected Behavior - If you don’t want your child to swear, then you will need to watch your language as well. Your child will see through your hypocrisy if you can’t adhere to your own standards.
- Act Responsibly - Help your child learn how to make good decisions. Teach them that their behaviors have consequences. You can start small by giving them manageable choices with minor consequences so they can gain experience before the choices get bigger and the consequences become more life altering.
Consider Another Option
If you have tried all of the above strategies with no lasting success, you might consider a therapeutic boarding school for your struggling child. Removal from his environment and placement in a facility can work wonders for him. Look into treatment options than can create lasting change for your teen today.