Archives for February 2014

How To Know if Your Teen Has RAD

Reactive attachment disorder, or RAD is triggered when a child is unable to complete the bonding cycle with their primary caregiver before the age of five. Babies and small children begin building the foundation for trust, healthy attachment with others and security at this very critical stage in development. This bonding is established through affectionate touch, positive interactions, consistently having needs met and consistency of caregivers. Children for whom this is disrupted or entirely absent are at a higher risk for developing RAD, which is irreversible.

The symptoms of reactive attachment disorder among children and teens can vary, but most commonly include anger and aggression, risk taking, difficulty showing or receiving affection, inability to connect with anyone for any length of time and a desire to control every situation. Although there is no actual cure for reactive attachment disorder, there are medications and therapies that can teach a teen to recognize and manage his symptoms and still live a happy and successful life.

The teen years are particularly difficult for RAD teens and their parents. Lying and manipulation are common behaviors among RAD teens and parents must walk the fine line between showing love and affection, but without enabling the manipulation. RAD teens are no different than healthy teens in that they crave acceptance, however in RAD sufferers, it is an all consuming void and then they don't trust it when they get it. This can lead to elevated attempts to control their environment in unhealthy ways, such as substance abuse, sexual activity and self harm. The apparent lack of remorse or guilt after bad behavior can be particularly frustrating to caretakers, even when they know what the root of the problem is.

As difficult as the adolescent years are, they also offer a prime opportunity for treatment of RAD. It can be hard to explain to a young child why they feel the way they do, but teens are mature enough to comprehend, while still young enough to participate in early intervention before they head out into the world. It is a time when they are still able to open up about their condition and immerse themselves in ways to make changes to their still developing brains. Because of the very nature of RAD symptoms, the healing process is often a matter of one step forward and two steps back. Success  for both caretakers and sufferers requires a lot of consistency, patience and reasonable expectations. The treatment options available vary from special education programs and individual therapy to full time residential programs, depending on the severity of the disorder.

If you and your teen are struggling with reactive attachment disorder, please contact us at Liahona Academy in order to determine what your treatment options are and if any of our full time therapy programs will be a good fit for your son. We have years of experience treating teen boys with RAD and our goal is to help them gain the tools they need to recognize and manage their disorder in order to live a successful life and maintain healthy relationships. Call us today at 1-800-675-8101.

Symptoms of Teens with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

Understanding the challenges and symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder, or RAD, requires knowledge of how it is caused. Infants typically form attachment to their primary caregiver by repeated touch, being soothed and consistently having their needs met. These activities lay the groundwork for trust and future healthy attachments such as relationships with family and friends. When this process is disrupted or never occurs before the age of five, it can result in the lifelong consequences of RAD.

Although RAD is not considered common, the effects of the disorder are long reaching. Children who suffer from RAD fit into several categories of causes. For instance, RAD is not uncommon in children who have been adopted. Children who regularly changed caregivers, such as foster children are also at risk, as are children who lose their mothers at a very early age. Children who experience persistent neglect or abuse are also at high risk for the disorder.

Symptoms of Teens with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

Common Expectations Of Teens With Reactive Attachment Disorder

RAD manifests in a variety of ways ranging from withdrawal and isolation to severe aggression and a compelling need to be in control of every situation. All RAD sufferers feel a lack of trust and an inability to connect or properly bond with others. Early intervention gives RAD kids the best shot at a healthy future, as the older an individual gets, the more complexly the disorder can affect every phase of life. Unfortunately, once RAD has been inflicted and diagnosed, there is no cure. However, through therapy, RAD sufferers can learn to manage their symptoms and live healthy, happy lives.

Teens with RAD are particularly susceptible to risky behaviors as the adolescent years are a tricky time for even healthy teens. Most teens yearn to feel included and accepted, however RAD teens have an even more intense craving for approval and love, but don't trust it when it is given. Because one of the symptoms of RAD is a decreased sense of guilt, teens with the disorder are at much higher risk for behavior such as substance abuse and sexual activity. Suicide, running away and cutting are all very common among RAD teens. At this time, kids are learning enough about social rules to mimic healthy interactions, but underneath, the problems remain and if left untreated, will affect all of their future relationships. RAD is not something an individual grows out of or learns to handle on their own. It is a condition that requires constant treatment.

Improving Teenage Habits Associated With RAD

The adolescent years are an ideal time to modify the destructive behavior of a teen with RAD. The individual is old enough to understand what is happening within themselves and can be mature enough to open up and learn to develop real relationships and heal the intense craving for affection and trust. Parenting a teen with RAD is an exercise in patience, as the process is often one step forward and two steps back. Manipulation and lying are both common behaviors that can challenge the therapeutic process and frustrate parents. Parents must walk a fine line between showing empathy and love without  enabling manipulative behavior. Time, therapy and patience is the combination that allows teens to acquire the tools to manage their symptoms.

If your teen has been diagnosed with RAD, or if you suspect that they have the disorder, contact us today at Liahona Academy 1-800-675-8101 to discuss your treatment options. We are a full time therapeutic residential facility that specializes in helping teen boys overcome the negative symptoms of RAD. Our experienced therapists and accredited programs can put your teen on the path to happy, healthy adulthood.

Treatment of RAD

Reactive Attachment Disorder, or RAD, occurs when the bonding or attachment process between a child and its mother or primary caretaker is disrupted or absent. Whether it is through neglect, unavoidable separation or constantly changing caretakers, children with RAD miss out on the crucial formative process of bonding that sets the stage for trust and future healthy attachment to family and friends. Reactive Attachment Disorder is not considered common, but by the time it is diagnosed, the damage is considered irreparable, although the symptoms can be managed through early intervention and behavior modification therapy.

Symptoms of reactive attachment disorder most commonly involve aggression, anger, lack of empathy or conscience, consistent need for control and an aversion to physical touch and affection. These behaviors can be very stressful and frustrating for parents and caretakers and it may seem as though none of their efforts are successful. However, between patience, consistency and positive support, the work will eventually pay off in the form of a healthy adult.

Support Yourself - When treating a child with RAD, one of the first things a parent or caretaker needs to do is make sure that they have the support they need. This type of parenting is not for the faint of heart and it can be helpful to have a therapist, family member or even a parent support group to fall back on when you are overwhelmed or need help staying positive.

Stabilize the Environment - Because a child with RAD is so distrustful of their environment, they constantly keep their guard up, which also prevents them from accepting or trusting the love and affection they do receive. Loving but consistent boundaries with consequences and a regular routine will help a RAD child know what to expect in his world and help them feel control in a positive way. This will also gradually reinforce trust as they begin to learn to count on you to do what you say.

Remain Calm – Remaining calm in the face of misbehavior helps show a child with RAD that feelings are manageable. Pre-establish consequences and then follow through without shouting or extreme emotion. Although children with this disorder will try to push every one of your buttons in order to control the situation, you will enhance their unsafe feelings if you become emotionally charged.

Remain Available - Conflict is particularly concerning for children who are insecurely attached. After disciplinary measures, be immediately available to reconnect as soon as your child is ready in order to reinforce love and consistency. If you were in the wrong, apologizing to your child and admitting your mistakes will show them by example how to appropriately react when they make mistakes.

Utilize Professional Therapy Services – Reactive Attachment Disorder can be tricky to treat and it should not be attempted without the assistance of an expert. Depending on how advanced the disorder is, there are a variety of options, both full time and part time to help you and your child learn to manage the symptoms and effects of RAD. These can include individual therapy, family therapy, special education services and full time rehabilitation facilities.

If your family is struggling with RAD, contact us at Liahona Academy for a free consultation on the treatment options that are available to you. We are a full time residential facility and we have a variety of therapeutic programs targeted toward helping teen boys with RAD learn to manage their disorder and reestablish healthy relationships. Call us today at 1-800-675-8101.

Tyler Clark is the Online Outreach Coordinator for Liahona Academy. Liahona Academy is located in Utah and specializes in behavioral management for teen boys. 

Causes of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

Reactive Attachment Disorder, or RAD, occurs when the bonding or attachment process with the primary caregiver is interrupted or absent. The damage is usually done before a child reaches the age of five. Our earliest years as infants and children is when we train our minds to trust others and bond with them. Activities such as cuddling, soothing, feeding and consistent daily interaction all serve to help us learn what we can count on as well as setting the groundwork for future trust. When this doesn't happen during this time period, it can trigger lifelong consequences.

Causes of RAD can be varied. For instance, foster children or adopted children who change caregivers can end up with the disorder. A traumatizing experience, such as losing a mother or being hospitalized or otherwise separated from the parents can also trigger RAD. Children who are persistently neglected or abused develop a deep sense of distrust and fear as the norm and many RAD kids are the result of such situations. By the time RAD is diagnosed, the damage has already been done and unfortunately, it is irreparable. Modern therapy can do much to manage the symptoms of RAD, as can certain medications, but as it is a relatively recently recognized disorder without a specific lab based diagnosis, it is important for parents, caregivers and physicians to recognize the common symptoms.

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of RAD include :

  • Aggression and Anger – This may be expressed through tantrums or by passive aggressive manipulation. Older children with RAD may be able to temporarily hide their anger in socially acceptable situations.
  • Control Issues – Children with RAD will go to great lengths to retain control of any given situation in order to avoid feeling helpless. This often leads to defiance, disobedience and arguments.
  • Aversion to Physical Affection – For children with reactive attachment disorder, touch is perceived as a threat rather than producing positive feelings. It is common for RAD kids to flinch or otherwise avoid being touched. Even direct eye contact can be difficult to maintain.
  • Underdeveloped Conscience – RAD kids often fail to show guilt or remorse after misbehaving. They may act as though they don't have a conscience.
  • Difficulty Showing Affection – Children with reactive attachment disorder may offer little to no affection toward their parents, yet have no problem displaying affection to strangers or acquaintances.

Parenting a child with reactive attachment disorder can be very stressful and frustrating as the positive aspects of the process, such as physical touch and reciprocal affection can act as a buffer for the harder times. However, it is important to remember that a child with RAD is also extremely uncomfortable and stressed, which is what leads to the behavior in the first place. Through various types of therapy, patience and support, it is possible to make life easier for both you and your troubled child.

If your child has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, contact us at Liahona Academy regarding treatment options. We are a full time residential facility and we have multiple programs that help teen boys with RAD learn to recognize and manage their symptoms, while moving in a positive direction. Call us today for a free consultation and take the first step toward healing your relationship with your child. 1-800-675-8101.

Tyler Clark is the Online Outreach Coordinator for Liahona Academy. Liahona Academy is located in Utah and specializes in behavioral management for teen boys. 

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)?

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) occurs primarily in kids who have been unable to form an emotionally healthy attachment to their primary caregivers, usually before the age of five. In older children and adults, it can present in behaviors ranging from aggressive behavior to extreme withdrawal. In every case, it is characterized by an inability to form healthy attachments to anyone. Attachment typically develops when a young child is comforted, soothed and consistently cared for by their mother or other caregiver. It is through this loving attachment that children first learn to trust, become aware of others, regulate emotions and set the basis for developing healthy relationships. When this attachment is disturbed or absent, it can cause repercussions that can last an entire lifetime.

RAD presents in two different ways: inhibited and disinhibited. Symptoms of inhibited RAD include : resistance to comforting, detached or suppressed emotions, withdrawn or avoidant personality. Disinhibited RAD symptoms include : acting out, risk taking behaviors, aggression, low self esteem and inability to connect with others or show empathy. Both types of RAD can cause an extremely negative impact on emotional, physical, social and behavioral development if left untreated.

There are many ways in which RAD can be triggered in young children. For instance, the loss of a parent or constantly changing primary caregivers can be the cause. Negligent care or persistent disregard for a child's physical and emotional needs is also a major factor in occurrences. Although there is no physical test that specifically diagnoses RAD, doctors are becoming more aware of the symptoms. Once they have ruled out physical illness, it can be diagnosed as a mental disorder based on patient history as well as current attitude and behavior.

There is no definitive cure for RAD, however, there are many treatment options. These involve making the environment feel safe and secure as well as regular counseling to treat the ongoing symptoms. Truly effective treatment often focuses on both the child and the current caregiver, as they will need to work to develop an attachment. Medication may be used to treat the more extreme symptoms of RAD, but it will not cure the disorder itself. Treatment of RAD is a continuous process and the earlier a child is diagnosed and begins gaining the tools he needs to work around the disorder, the greater the likelihood of a successful adulthood.

RAD can have a negative impact on a child's environment and development if not properly diagnosed and treated. It is a disorder that can worsen the longer it remains unaddressed. At Liahona Academy, we have developed programs that target the concerns and symptoms associated with RAD. Our experienced therapists will work with your son to help him learn to deal with the day to day challenges he faces in a positive way. If you are concerned about your son or if he has been diagnosed with RAD, contact us for more information on how we can help him kick start his treatment and begin living a healthier life. 1-800-675-8101.

How To Thrive With ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, more commonly referred to as ADHD, is a behavioral disorder affecting approximately 8%-10% of school age kids. Although it is not known why, boys are more often diagnosed with ADHD than girls. It is most often discovered during the earlier childhood years, especially as it has become more recognized, although some kids don't get diagnosed until they are in their teens.


ADHD is most often characterized by an inability to concentrate on one task for long, hyperactivity and acting without thinking. Kids affected by the disorder may find great difficulty paying attention, holding still or following through with directions, even if they fully comprehend what is expected of them. Although all children act like this to some degree, ADHD sufferers present symptoms over a long and consistent period of time and it occurs in multiple settings, impairing social and academic function as well as their day to day life at home.


Although ADHD has been frequently misunderstood, proper treatment, including medication and therapy, can go a long way toward allowing those suffering from the disorder to manage their symptoms and ultimately thrive.


Make a routine and stick to it – Following the same schedule every day can be very helpful to kids with ADHD. They have a better chance of regulating themselves if they always know what is expected consistently.


Eliminate distractions – Kids with ADHD are particularly susceptible to distractions when they need to concentrate on homework or chores. Turn off the TV, put away the phone and eliminate repetitive background noises as best you can until the task is finished.


Academic Accommodations- You can help your child thrive academically by making sure that he has access to the things he needs in school to succeed. This may include tutors, testing accommodations and open communication with each teacher. Helping your child stay organized in order to create structure is critical to succeeding in school as is making sure you know what is required and when.


Peer Relationships - Many kids who have ADHD suffer from problems in their peer relationships. Statistically, they have fewer reciprocal friends and they are more susceptible to bullying or being bullied. Keep the line of communication open between you and your child in order to discuss friendship and relationship difficulties. Encourage social participation within a structured and safe social environment, such as extracurricular activities. Attending therapy to specifically hone social skills can also be helpful.


Driving- Kids with ADHD have a much higher risk of traffic tickets or accident because of their heightened sensitivity to distractions as well as their tendency for inattention and impulsiveness. Use your judgment when determining what age is appropriate for your child to drive. Keep him safe by making sure he is taking his medication, restricting passengers in the car and setting strict rules about  phone use. Make sure that he is aware of the extra concerns associated with his condition and driving and gradually allow more freedom as his judgment and skill matures.


At Risk Behavior – Studies have proven that teenagers with ADHD tend to participate in substance abuse and become sexually active earlier than those without the disorder. Parents can help their teens avoid this by being aware of their social activities as well as who they hang out with. Minimize unsupervised and unstructured free time by encouraging extracurricular activities and maintain a constant and open dialog about the dangers of unsafe sex and underage drinking. Your rules and the consequences should be clear and consistent so your child knows what to expect. 


Liahona Academy is a full time residential facility specializing in helping teens overcome many of the pitfalls they encounter when living with ADHD. Through therapy and practical life skills, your son can gain the tools he needs to manage his symptoms and thrive. For more information on ADHD help from Liahona Academy, call us for a free consultation at 1-800-675-8101.


Tyler Clark is the Online Outreach Coordinator for Liahona Academy. Liahona Academy is located in Utah and specializes in behavioral management for teen boys. 

Teens and Alcohol – How To Talk To Your Teen

The adolescent years are a time of pushing boundaries and experimentation as teens stand on the cusp of becoming adults. Unfortunately, this time often involves alcohol, which can lead to a variety of dangerous situations. Although schools are now making great efforts to educate teens on the negative effects of drinking, there is no substitute for a conscientious parent addressing the subject with their child. However, because it is common for teens and their parents to clash during these volatile years, it may be difficult to approach the subject in a way they will actually listen. Patience, calm and consistency will all be required to effectively approach this all important subject.


One of the first things you should do as a parent is keep a line of communication open with your child from an early age. Talk to them about drinking and the dangers involved so that when your child is at an age to actually be at real risk, it isn't a conversation coming out of the blue. As they approach the teenage years, talk with them about the kinds of things that may tempt them to try alcohol, such as peer, reducing stress or escaping current reality. Once a teen knows what the triggers are, he can come up with an answer for potential situations.


 Discuss real world consequences such as violent attack, drunk driving and legal ramifications. Because the human brain does not fully finish developing until the mid-twenties, alcohol abuse during the adolescent years can cause real damage, and in some cases, open the door to alcoholism later in life. Your teen needs to understand that you are not simply out to ruin the party, but that there is a reason that drinking isn't allowed until adulthood. Set rules and consequences for your child and make sure that they are clearly stated. Teens who know that their parents are aware and will be checking up on them are less likely to experiment.


Approach the subject calmly. If you suspect that your child has been drinking, ask open ended questions without being emotional or accusatory.  Be willing to listen, even if you know that the end result is still going to be the previously discussed consequence. It may be necessary to discuss with your teen what their plan of action is if they find themselves at a gathering that includes alcohol. Let him know that the consequences don't apply if he calls you in order to be picked up from the situation before he drinks. He should feel like he can call without repercussions if he is removing himself from temptation, when the alternative might be drunk driving or other dangerous situations. Teens who are anxious to avoid a confrontation will most often choose the path of least resistance. Show him that you are willing to be rational if he is willing to show that he can be responsible in the face of temptation.


Talking to your teen about alcohol is not a one time conversation. Talk early and talk often. Keep that line of communication open, whether or not your teen wants to. Make sure that he knows that although you understand that there are areas where he is entitled to his privacy and reasonable responsibility, you will be relentless when it comes to questions of his safety. There should be no question in your teens mind regarding how you feel about underage drinking or how you will react if you find evidence of it.  Researchers have found that college students whose parents were open with them about drinking throughout their teen years were 20 times more likely to develop healthy drinking patterns as young adults. Studies also showed that parental talks were fairly ineffective when they didn't occur until after their child left for college.


It is an unfortunate fact that your teen is more than likely to be tempted with alcohol at some point before he hits adulthood. It is your job, as a parent, to make sure he is as prepared for that occurrence as possible. Keep the discussion current, even if you aren't sure if it is landing where it should. Your teen hears more than you think. If you are parenting a teen who has a problem with drinking, contact us at Liahona Academy to discuss the programs we offer and the ways we can help your son overcome substance abuse. We are a full time residential facility located in Utah and we have years of experience in helping teen boys move beyond their behavioral issues and become happy, healthy young men. 1-800-675-8101.


Tyler Clark is the Online Outreach Coordinator for Liahona Academy. Liahona Academy is located in Utah and specializes in behavioral management for teen boys. 

5 Reasons It Is Important To Eat Dinner As A Family

For  past generations, the dinner table was the main gathering place at the end of the work/school day. What likely began primarily as a convenience, serving and clearing a meal once, has grown into one of the most important times of the day for the family. With the rise of after school activities, the convenience of fast food, erratic work hours and juggling multiple schedules, family dinner has become less of a priority. However, parents should be careful about losing this all important time of day with their children. There are multiple reasons why eating together as a family has more of an impact than you may think.


1- You Can Improve Communication With Your Kids – Dinner is an ideal time to catch up on everyone's day. The open discussion not only allows parents to keep tabs on what their children do on a day to day basis, but it also promotes healthy interaction between all family members. There will rarely be another time in your day when you are gathered as a family to just sit and catch up or talk about interests. 


2- Take Control of Your Children's Physical Health – When you are presenting dinner, you are also presenting your kids with the opportunity to eat healthy and try new things. Childhood obesity is a growing problem and by presiding over the dinner table, you not only control what goes in your children's mouths, but also how much. Set a good example by offering a range of healthy foods. This is your best chance to influence their eating habits now and for life.


3 – Take Control of Your Kids Emotional Health – Use the time at the dinner table to assess how each of your children are doing. By eating together, you are not only able to monitor for eating disorders, a growing concern among teens as well as a sign of inner turmoil, but also lower the risk for emotional distress. Recent studies have shown that kids who frequently eat with their families show fewer signs of depression and engage less in risky behavior such as substance abuse and sexual activity. Children in this same study report that they more connected to their parents when they regularly eat dinner as a family.


4 – Give Grades a Boost – According to the CASA report, teens who eat with their families fewer than three times a week (20%) generally get C's or lower on their report cards. This is highly contrasted by the 9% of students who do eat with their families regularly and also report the same grades. Not only do family meals allow children time to interact with and practice adult conversation, but they also improve their vocabulary by picking up on how adults are using their words.


5 – Teach Good Habits – Dinner is an ideal time in a fairly informal setting to teach your children manners. Things such as using both a knife and fork, chewing with a closed mouth, asking politely for things to be passed to them and not interrupting others are skills that they will not necessarily be taught anywhere else. Many parents find that it is harder to change the ingrained habits of their older children than it is to take the time to teach them the basics while they are young.


In addition to these reasons, scheduled family dinner offers stability in an increasingly busy world. It is worth the time it takes to plan a meal, even if it isn't gourmet, and sit down as a family to reconnect all at the same time. If you have concerns about connecting with one of your children, call us at Liahona Academy for a free consultation to discuss programs and treatment options. 1-800-675-8101.


Tyler Clark is the Online Outreach Coordinator for Liahona Academy. Liahona Academy is located in Utah and specializes in behavioral management for teen boys. 

Defiance and Teens- Tips To Raising Your Teen During Their Defiant Years

The teenage years are a common battleground for defiance and acting out. The years where adolescents are making the change from children to adults can frustrating for both teens and their parents. Physically, the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, or the part of the brain that makes decisions and thinks rationally, does not fully develop until the mid twenties. On one hand, teens think they are old enough to be entrusted with adult decisions, however, their thought process and decision making is still fairly underdeveloped and irrational. This leads to teens lashing out at parents who set firm and healthy boundaries for them. So, how do you navigate the defiant teen years? It is a frustratingly fine balance between allowing your child enough freedom to help them learn to be responsible adults, without allowing them into situations that could be dangerous and damaging. Fortunately, there are methods of parenting that allow you to keep your sanity, while helping your teen work with you.


1.      Keep The Lines Of Communication Open – It may often seem like your teen would rather talk to anyone in the world but you, but it is important to continue to make the effort to understand what is going on in their world. Defiance is often the result of insecurity and their behavior gets misdirected at you. Do your best to make sure your child can feel comfortable talking to you about problems they may be having with teachers or their social life. Spending time with your teen will also help them feel noticed and safe.

2.      Keep Your Teen Busy – Determine what your child's interests are and give them ample opportunity to hone them. Teens who are involved in activities such as sports, art or drama tend to have a higher sense of self worth and a more positive outlook on life. Make sure you are their biggest supporter.

3.      Pick Your Battles – There is no doubt that teens can quickly become masters at pushing every one of your buttons, however, if you let everything become an argument, they will stop giving weight to any of your words. Although there are things that shouldn't be allowed to slide, such as speaking respectfully and being safe, ask yourself when you are ready to head into battle if the argument is worth the effort or if you want to wait and save the “big guns” for something else.

4.      Be Consistent-  Teens are a little bit like toddlers. They will test you over and over in order to see if there is ever a different result to a situation. Being inconsistent with punishments and rules will only make them feel less secure. Your job as a parent is to be the safe place for your teen, even if he doesn't initially see it that way. Set firm rules and make sure that your child knows the consequences of disobeying.

5.      Give Praise Where It Is Due – Although it may seem like every day with your teen is a series of push and pull, don't forget to praise them sincerely for both big and little things. Making sure they know that you appreciate the efforts they do make to be responsible and respectful will hopefully give your words more impact when you need to call them out on bad behavior.


Dealing with defiant teens requires a lot of patience, love and consistency. It can be extremely trying at times, but it won't last forever and you console yourself that it is a natural part of growing up and the work will be worth it when you contribute another successful adult to the world.If your child is showing a consistent and excessive amount of defiance, he may need some help working through a core issue. Contact us at Liahona Academy, 1-800-657-8101 to discuss program options.


Tyler Clark is the Online Outreach Coordinator for Liahona Academy. Liahona Academy is located in Utah and specializes in behavioral management for teen boys. 

10 Tips To Talk To Your Teen

It is not uncommon for communication to break down between parents and children during the adolescent years. Teens start to balk against rules and parents don't quite see them as responsible and grown up as they themselves do. Talking to your teen can be a minefield of misunderstandings and arguments, but during these formative years, it is more important than ever to maintain good communication. Here are a ten tips to help you talk to your teen.


1.      Be involved – Know who your teen is hanging out with and how they feel about each friend. Ask about classes and homework and try to understand where they are struggling most academically. If you don't know what is going on in the life of your teenager, you won't know what questions to ask and some teens need a little push to get talking.

2.      Listen – Sometimes the best way to get your teen to talk is to stop yourself once you engage them. Listening is an extremely important part of communication and you need to show your teen that you can do that without jumping in to try to solve their problems. Sometimes talking helps them work through things and you can be a safe place to do that.

3.      Read Your Teens Cues- Every child is different in how they communicate. While some may appreciate a parent pulling up a chair and asking them all about their day, others may feel put on the spot and withdraw. Figure out how your teen is most comfortable opening up to you and use it. For instance, the teen that doesn't like the “hot seat” may find themselves chatting in a less focused setting, such as helping mix cookies or talking after lights out, under cover of darkness. If your teen prefers your undivided attention, make time to set aside uninterrupted one on one opportunities.

4.      Give Your Teen a Voice – As a parent, it can sometimes be difficult to remember that your teen while your teen is not yet an adult, he/she is approaching that quickly and is likely to feel more responsible than you feel they are. Constantly laying down the law without allowing them compromise can only lead your relationship downhill. So, before you are yelling at each other, give them regular options to calmly discuss the rules you have set and ways they think they can be improved. If your teen feels like he has a voice, he may be less likely to raise it all the time.

5.      Apologize – Everyone makes mistakes, even parents. Your teen needs to know this by seeing you admit when you are wrong. You do your teen no favors by pretending that adults are always right, but it can be a great learning experience to show them how to handle it when you find yourself in the wrong. Far from questioning your every move from then on, your teen is more likely to trust you in the future because you have shown yourself to be fair.

6.      Talk To Your Teen About Uncomfortable Subjects – It is tempting to not discuss some of the more uncomfortable subjects like pornography, drugs, drinking, social media and sexual activity, but your teen needs to know that you are aware of these things. You never know when they have questions that they don't dare bring up. Don't make these subjects taboo, or you could be missing a valuable opportunity to help guide your child in an increasingly troubled world.

7.      Respect privacy – Although this can be a tricky one, you need to take steps to show your teen that they have your trust. Set initial ground rules such as and then let your teen show you that they can be trusted before you give a little more. Recognize that each teen has a need for a place to unload their emotions, free from parents, whether it is a visit with friends or a private journal.

8.      Pick Your Battles – Some conversations with your teen are going to be unpleasant, but there is no need for every conversation to be that way. Try to avoid nit picking and nagging and keep the major discussions for the major issues. That being said, your teen should always know what is expected of them regarding respect, health and safety.

9.      Give Weight To Your Teen's Feelings – From your adult perspective, some things may not seem like as big of a deal to you as it does to your teen. If you can't see things quite from the adolescent perspective, try to remember that whatever emotion your child is feeling is real to them. Give them space to feel the way they do without belittling or negating it or your teen will just feel dismissed.

10.  Show Your Love – You may think you  say it and show it enough, but every teen is insecure and their safest place should be home. Say it often and do the little things that will show your teen how much you love them. If they really believe that, then they are more likely to open up in the future.


If you are concerned about your teen and his behavior, contact us at Liahona Academy 1-800-675-8101 for a free consultation on program options available to you. We are a  residential treatment center with a full time approach to therapy in order to help teen boys overcome behavioral issues and become the best they can be.


Tyler Clark is the Online Outreach Coordinator for Liahona Academy. Liahona Academy is located in Utah and specializes in behavioral management for teen boys.