Raising children is never exactly easy, but there are definitely some periods that are harder than others. Commonly, the troubled teen years come with their own set of challenges that many parents find they weren’t equipped to handle. As your children start to develop their own sense of self and seek independence, it can be a difficult transition for both you and them.
Sometimes, these challenges manifest into certain behaviors from your troubled teen, which may include experimentation with substances or other reckless behavior. This is about the time that many parents start to panic, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop being a great parent.
Here are some tips that can help you parent your troubled teen:
Always Practice Open Communication
Whatever you do, always keep an open line of communication between you and your child. Even when they are being difficult, stubborn, and abject to reason, it is still important that they know they can come to you and talk about the issues that they are going through. To keep this communication a habit with you and them, you need to listen; really listen. If your idea of communication is telling your teenager what they are doing wrong, and giving them your own advice without first hearing their thought processes, then you’ll be in for a rude awakening, because they just won’t listen. To gain and maintain respect, listening is tantamount.
Your teenager is starting to gain their independence, and there are boundaries that they will push each day just to see what they are. This is natural, but it doesn’t mean that you should just let them explore anything on their own. There’s a fine tightrope walk that you should walk between structure and freedom for your child. Having somewhat of a schedule that is based around school and extracurricular activities is great for their development, and then you can balance it out with time that they can spend as they wish.
Be Mindful of Their Mental Health
Today, our awareness of mental health problems is becoming more advanced. This is a good thing. In the past, far too many issues have gone undiagnosed and ignored because of a lack of awareness. As such, it’s important to note that many types of troubling behaviors may or may not be tied to mental health issues in your teenager. Things like depression, generalized anxiety disorders, even high functioning autism and bipolar disorder are becoming more and more common in youth today.
If you have any concerns or worry about your child’s mental health, seeking treatment and getting a diagnosis is an important step. There are a wide variety of different therapy options that exist today, which helps you find the right treatment for your child, whether it is weekly counseling sessions, group therapy, or even more experiential options like reality therapy.
Teach Them Skills That Give Them Confidence
Behavioral issues in teenagers can sometimes be tied to a feeling of insecurity, or a lack of self-confidence. As such, even though you worry your teen might not be interested, take time out of your day to show them how to do things. Teaching them how to cook, how to make something, or even how to drive will give them special confidence that they may not have. This also provides a great opportunity to spend time with your child and get to know them while passing on your knowledge.
Finally, be patient with them. Yes, it’s true that nothing in the world can be quite as infuriating as a teenager acting out. However, it’s important to remember that they are trying to develop into their own person, and that transition isn’t always easy to figure out, especially at that age, and especially not with hormone fluctuations raging inside. Stay patient, though, because eventually, that teenager that drives you up the wall will develop into a special adult that you helped raise into this world.