Understanding and Parenting Troubled Teens

As a child transitions into adulthood, there may be tough times ahead. And as a parent, it is worrisome and troubling to see your cute and cuddly cherub who did not get enough kisses from you turn into a moody and sullen individual that can’t seem to stand being near you. Worse, if your child suddenly exhibits signs of being troubled – getting into fights, substance abuse issues, eating disorders and sexually acting out. Your teen may also exhibit symptoms of depression. There are cases when the root causes manifest themselves by the teen’s playing the truant in school, have discipline problems and a rebellious attitude and display inappropriate anger.

You as a parent feel as if your sweet child has changed overnight. The teenage years are also fraught with landmines since your influence as a parent may have diminished and your child is starting to turn towards peers and other sources of influence other than the family environment. How do you deal with this transition? How do you love your child during this challenging time in his life? How do you provide your teen with guidance, even as he tries to discover his boundaries and sorts out the confusion and pressures that accompany this new phase of his life?

Yes, raising teens has its own difficulties and if handled wrongly, you may cause more damage to your relationship as parent and child rather than strengthen it. There is often conflict between parent and child as the teen tries to be more independent and make more decisions on his own.

Here are some ways you can start understanding and parenting your troubled teen:

–          Connect and communicate with your teen. Spend quality time to bond with your child and do the things he enjoys. If your child is into sports, buy tickets and watch the games together. If she is into fashion, take her out shopping. Spend time together on family outings and camping trips. One practical way to connect with your child is to establish regular mealtimes where all family members share the meals together. Without being too intrusive, let your child understand that you are there when he wants to talk.

–          Remember the teen you love and not focus on the attitudes and behaviors that you don’t. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you love your teen, even during times when you are arguing fiercely and when he is acting out. Remember your teen’s positive qualities and sincerely praise him for it every chance you get.

–          Get into your Teen’s shoes. Try to see things from your teenager’s perspective. This is what family therapists call “reframing”. Trying to see things the way your teen sees it will provide you with valuable insights as to why he is acting the way he does. You will have a deeper understanding of the fact that there is usually pain at the root of the troubled behavior.

–          Don’t play the blame game. Don’t blame yourself for what your teen is going through. The fact that your teen is troubled is not solely due to your parenting. Blaming yourself will just paralyze you into not acting as you should.

–          Be patient. You may be at the point where you are exasperated with your child, and with yourself. Don’t. Showing impatience about your child’s attitudes and behavior will not help.

–          Don’t be afraid to get help. You may need to call in some reinforcements to help you understand your teen and build a stronger relationship with them. You must be on the lookout for signs that your teen is troubled and then reach out to your child by going for family therapist in Utah. This can be an important step in learning how to communicate and bond with your child. If you notice that there are signs of alcoholism or drug use, don’t be afraid to go for substance abuse counseling.

–          Be on the lookout for signs of a troubled teen. Here are some warning signs you should look into:

  • Being particularly insistent about privacy. This is more than your average teenage desire to have privacy, especially from the prying eyes of parents and siblings. A troubled teen may be defensive when asked where he’s been or what he has been doing.
  • Being irritable and prone to bursts of anger. Troubled teens may be more sensitive and usually flare up at the smallest reasons.
  • Having discipline problems at home. This may be due to constantly violated curfews and rules, missed household chores or your teen being caught lying.
  • Things and money that mysteriously go missing. Teens that are into drug and alcohol abuse will need money to buy their substance of choice. He may try to take out expensive items from home and sell it. Or, he may also try to steal some money from you.
  • Change in group of friends. Your child may start hanging out with a new set of friends, often friends that you as a parent would consider as “the wrong crowd”. He may refuse to introduce his “new” friends to you and will not talk about them.
  • Changes in behavior. Aside from sullenness and moodiness, your teen may just use your home just as a place to sleep and eat. They may spend more time eating and sleeping than they would just being with the rest of the family.

If you are looking for an experienced therapist in Provo, Utah, be sure to look Dr. Triston Morgan up. He provides a non-confrontational atmosphere for teens and their families. He holds a Ph. D in family and Utah marriage therapy and holds a license to practice the same in the state of Utah. He has extensive experience in dealing with teens in various settings such as wilderness therapy programs, therapeutic boarding school and in-office therapy.

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