Parents face numerous challenges when raising a teenager. When that teen suffers from behavioral, substance or depression issues, the challenges admittedly increase. Defiance, mood swings and feelings of despair can leave you both struggling to communicate. Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce the stress and chaos at home.Creating boundaries and structured routines for troubled teens takes planning and organization and will help your child’s development.
An Overview of a Teen’s Brain
Understanding how the teenage brain works can help you comprehend your teen’s behavior. The frontal cortex is restructured during the teen years and will not reach full maturity until they are in their mid 20’s. When coupled with hormones, teens simply can’t process information at an adult level. Their need for independence and desire to find their own identity can create unpredictable behavior, such as fear, sadness, frustration and a lack of impulse control. Teens often lash out in anger since they have difficulty processing these other feelings.
Guidance for Teens
Teenagers thrive on structure and guidance, which lets them know what is expected of them. This helps them realize acceptable behaviors and prepares the teen for the real world. While different disorders require different approaches, helping your troubled teenager begins at home. A foundation of love and trust provides a structured environment for your teen, which is crucial for their growth. You can build this foundation through respect and communication.
Statistics and General Tips
Although millions of American teenagers live with various types of behavioral disorders, only 20 percent receive a diagnosis and proper medical treatment. While each behavioral disorder requires a different approach to treatment, you can help your teen with effective communication no matter the issue. Create a list of house rules and responsibilities. Discuss this list with your teen when you are both calm and make sure they understand your expectations. Emphasize that they will face consequences for negative behavior and enforce it. Listen to your teen and be willing to compromise on some issues. Your teenager will initially seem reluctant to the rules and structure, but this method helps you prepare them for the real world.
More Tips for Providing Structure
- Identify triggers for your teenager.
- Help them develop a routine that sets them up for success.
- Make sure they are getting the required amount of sleep.
- Encourage them to develop healthy habits, such as proper nutrition, exercise and effective ways to relieve stress.
- Help your teen set up an organization system.
- Show your child that you care through your actions.
- Keep the lines of communication open.
- Make sure to acknowledge positive behavior.
- Consider which behaviors are normal and watch for those that can lead to more serious issues.
- Give yourself breaks and seek support as needed.
Teen violence is a growing epidemic. If you or other family members ever feel threatened by your teen, seek help immediately. Keep in mind that having a troubled teen does not mean that you have failed as a parent. No matter the issues your teenager is experiencing, they can improve with love and guidance.