What To Do When Your Troubled Teen Stonewalls You


It’s disheartening when your troubled teen starts to pull away from you and spend more time alone. To you, they’re the same kid that they’ve always been.

For them, though, adolescence is a weird time. They’re thrust into it whether they like it or not, and they need to deal with their new hormones and emotional changes. Many troubled teens don’t know how to handle so many changes and start to get more apprehensive about talking to their parents.

Fortunately for them, they’ve got you to help them through it.

Although they won’t always act like they still need you and want your approval, they do. This makes it even more confusing when your troubled teen stonewalls you and stops talking to you.

How are you supposed to know what’s going on with them when they won’t tell you what’s wrong?

Even more importantly, how will you know when it’s time to intervene if they won’t open up about what’s going on with them?

What to do when your troubled teen stonewalls you

Talk about their silence

If you’ve had a close relationship with your child as they were growing up, you will have a bit more leverage to get them to talk to you. Keep in mind that even the chattiest little kids can grow into sullen teenagers. Just because your kid used to tell you every single thing that happened in their life doesn’t mean they’ll keep opening up forever.

Many teens start to withdraw during adolescence, and that’s OK.

You must communicate with your troubled teen enough to understand their silence, though. Even though you might not know everything that’s going on with them, it’s essential to understand why they’re being so quiet.

It’s also important for them to know that you still love them and that they can still open up to you if they want to.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when talking to your troubled teen about their new need for silence.

  • Don’t make it about you. Yes, they probably have hurt your feelings by not talking to you like they used to. Remember, that’s probably not their intent. When you talk to them about why they’re so quiet all of a sudden, try not to guilt-trip them about it.
  • Let them know that you care. Your teen needs to know that you still love them and still care about them even though they’re growing up. Their interests are changing, their moods are changing, and they feel different than they used to. They still want to know that you’ve got their back and will be there for them if needed.
  • Show respect. As your teen is getting older, they don’t want to be treated like a little kid. Even though their actions may seem childish still, they need to know that you don’t see them as the same little kid they used to be. Respect that they are developing opinions of their own and that the problems that feel big to them are real.
  • Create space for talking. A lot of teens start to get intimidated by difficult or emotional conversations. They find it difficult to look someone in the eye and talk about their feelings. So, create space for those conversations. Having tough conversations while riding in a car or while doing another activity can make the conversation feel less threatening.

Watch for warning signs

Sometimes, teens start to withdraw from their parents because something much bigger is going on in their lives, and they don’t know how to handle it.

They could be struggling emotionally or dealing with issues at school. If your troubled teen is withdrawing from you and won’t open up anymore, keep an eye out for warning signs of possible mental health problems.

Warning signs of underlying mental health issues include:

  • Withdrawing from people they used to hang out with a lot
  • Discontinuing activities they used to enjoy
  • Using alcohol or drugs
  • Not following through with responsibilities
  • Trying to keep everyone out of their room all the time

If you notice that your troubled teen is showing the warning signs of mental health trouble, get professional help.

They could be struggling with depression, substance abuse, or another mental health problem. Many troubled teens benefit from attending a therapeutic boarding school to receive individualized treatment from certified therapists.

If you are worried about your teen son’s withdrawal, contact us today to find out more about our therapeutic programs for troubled teens.

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