Where to Turn When Nothing Else Works for Your Out of Control Teen

Being a parent can be overwhelming, and your out-of-control teen may leave you feeling beyond overwhelmed. You’ve tried setting down firm household rules; you’ve metered out appropriate consequences; you’ve tried therapy, and so much more.

What next? A teen that is out of control can take a significant toll on the lives of everyone around him.

There are several steps that parents can take to reverse some of the concerns that they are facing.

Address your reactions and needs

Parenting can challenge you in the best of times. When your teen is out-of-control, it can leave you feeling beyond overwhelmed. Most teens struggle with hormonal changes, increasing pressure at school, and troubles with friends.

Emotions can run high, and as the parent, you are often the first to get blamed or dumped on when your teen is not feeling their best.
It’s not fair, but it does often indicate that you are your teen’s safe person and safe space. Even knowing that you may find that your reactions are quite strong when you’re confronted with a teen who is acting out.

Learning how to address your actions, and learn how to address your own needs, can help you to better cope with your teen. It can also help you to learn how to better parent difficult teens.

  • Don’t meet your teen on his level when he’s acting out. His anger and yelling, and even swearing is not something you need to reciprocate.
  • Separate yourself from the situation before it is allowed to escalate. Go to another room, step outside. Whatever it takes to give yourself some breathing room so that you can calm down and regroup.
  • Get the right type of help and resources for yourself. This could include going to support groups for parents of out-of-control teens, getting into individual therapy, or exploring other options that can meet your mental wellness needs.

When you feel better in control, you’ll be in a better position to help your teen find his way back.

How is your teen acting out?

There are many issues that your out-of-control teen could be struggling with. Each needs to be addressed in a way that addresses the specific needs of your teen in crisis.

Examples of teen behavior categorized as “acting out” includes:

  • Running away, even after being brought back home by law enforcement.
  • Stealing from parents, siblings, strangers, friends, and shoplifting.
  • Making threats towards others and carrying out some of the threats.
  • Being violent towards family and others.
  • Using and abusing drugs or alcohol.
  • Finding themselves in legal trouble.

Steps you can take with your out-of-control teen

With an idea of the type of troubling behavior you’re dealing with and an idea of what is behind their behavior, you can start to take the right steps. The goal is to try and get control back of your household and help your teen find his way back to normalcy.

Non-negotiable household rules. Don’t allow room for interpretation in the rules you establish in your home. Set clear expectations for how you expect your teen to act and behave. Establish appropriate consequences for not following the rules. There is zero room for argument or negotiation if your teen is warned for violating the rules and still pushes against your established boundaries.

Always have the facts on your side. Your teen may try to argue and justify his behavior. Whether he’s telling you that it’s not such a bad thing to drink alcohol at fifteen or he’s blaming someone else for his misdeeds, you need to be prepared to counter with facts and truths.

Be sure to follow through. There is no room for leniency when it comes to consequences. Your teen will take any signs of leniency as an opportunity to bend the rules to meet his wants.

Allow him to face legal consequences. If your teen has found himself in trouble with the law, it’s bound to be your first instinct to bail him out and protect him. In some cases, it may be out of your control, particularly if they opt to treat him as an adult versus a juvenile.

If needed, get him legal representation, but don’t continuously bail him out from behind bars if he’s arrested. At some point, he will need to understand that his actions have severe consequences that could result in the loss of his freedom. He may get away with shoplifting, breaking and entering, and other poor behavior when he’s a teen. Once he can be treated as an adult, the consequences he faces can be much more severe.

Alternative schools and residential treatment centers. Has your teen’s out-of-control behavior led to him struggling with school? Perhaps he’s struggled with peer pressure, bullying, and other negative influences at school and in your neighborhood?

Quite often, removing him from the situation entirely can offer him the ability to refocus, regroup, and recover. In these structured environments, your troubled teen can get his education back on track while also going through the intensive therapy that he can benefit from. However, not all alternative schools and residential treatment centers are created the same. Take the time to do some research into the types of facilities that can best meet the needs of your out-of-control teen.

If your teen reacts with violence and hurts you or someone else in the family, you shouldn’t hesitate to call the authorities to help you diffuse the situation. It’s understandable to be concerned about bringing the authorities into your home when your family is not at its best. It’s important to remember that law enforcement does not enter your home to split up your family. Their primary focus will always be to ensure that everyone is safe.

Law enforcement, social workers, and other people in positions of authority can also offer you the resources that you need to help your teen. Be open and honest with your interactions, and be sure to ask for help if you feel that you have tried all other options available to you.

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