Newport Academy focuses heavily on helping parents navigate the healing process of a struggling teen. It is a successful, efficient treatment center that offers multiple methods of help for troubled teens.
Working with Troubled Teens
There are some teens who exhibit extreme poor behavior during adolescence. The once smiling and happy teen delves into disobedience or absence seemingly overnight. Some teens even steal, lie, or threaten their parents. Living with a troubled teen can be a challenge, pushing parents to the end of their wits, as well as their patience.
Open the Lines of Communication
Adolescence can be confusing for parents, but it’s also confusing for teens. Allowing the child to have the opportunity to talk openly and express thoughts honestly is a good place to start. It’s unclear why certain teens become troubled while others do not. However, experts agree that teens who have close, honest relationships with their parents tend to exhibit less troublesome behaviors. A study in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy found that families with high levels of conflict and low levels of parental involvement tended to produce children with problem behaviors.
Seeking the right help for troubled teens can be difficult, especially if relationships between the parents and teens have been challenging up to this point. According to an article published by Psych Central, following a few basic guidelines can help mediate the tension:
- Come from love.
- Admit that the relationship hasn’t always been constructive, and you’d like to change it.
- Ask the teen to describe his or her mental state, inner feelings, or concerns.
- Listen. Do not interrupt.
Teens may not open up right away. Sometimes, this conversation must be repeated daily until the teen begins to trust that things have truly changed. They also need to know that speaking is safe and helpful. Once the teen does open up, you may be surprised at the thoughts that come spilling out.
Following Through on Teen Depression and Mental Illness
As the adolescent brain grows and develops, a window of opportunity for mental illness appears. These illnesses can make a teen feel so uncomfortable and off-kilter that acting out seems reasonable. Some teens simply can’t help themselves.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the following mental illnesses are commonly found in adolescents:
- Teen Depression
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Teens also face a real risk of depression, and some so low that suicide might seem like an option. Teens who claim that life isn’t worth living aren’t just being melodramatic. According to Mental Health America, these teens are in fact at high risk of suicide. Therefore, their comments should be considered urgent.
Parents can’t be expected to hold degrees in mental health, so parents can’t diagnose their children with mental illnesses based on their comments. They must seek help.
Teens who express thoughts that are bizarre or out of character need an intervention with a medical professional, especially if they talk about death or suicide. A doctor can diagnose the problem and provide appropriate therapies to help the teen heal.
Communication with Troubled Teens
Since open communication is key, this step must be taken carefully. Springing a mental health visit on a troubled teen could cause the teen anger and hostility. Consequently, the teen doesn’t participate in the visit. It could also destroy the relationship with the parent. Using a statement such as, “I am worried about your mental health, and I’d like for you to see a doctor. I’ll make an appointment and come with you,” can be better. Notice that the teen isn’t given the opportunity to refuse this help. The parent must be firm here.
Following Through on Drug Use
If the teen reveals drug or alcohol use, the parent is faced with a tough choice: Is it mere experimentation, or is a serious intervention needed? The parent’s role is to provide support and guidance. The parent shouldn’t play the role of their best friend. Any and all drug or alcohol use by a teen must be addressed.
Parents of teens who abuse drugs or alcohol should attempt to determine:
- What the child is taking
- How often?
- At what dosages?
- Where the teen is getting the drug
- Whether or not the teen has tried to stop using, and what happened
Some teens experiment with drugs on a recreational basis, and they can stop if they’re told to stop. Setting boundaries with these teens is ideal. They should know that drug and alcohol use is not allowed. If the teen breaks that rule, consequences will follow. Parents may need to think about the consequences if the teen breaks the rules. Parents should be prepared to act on those promises if the teen tests the boundaries.
Lead with Love
Some may have gone from experimentation to addiction, and they may find it difficult to stop using drugs or alcohol. The Partnership for a Drug Free America warns that teen addiction is serious and chronic. The teen often needs outside help in order to control. Teens who have tried to quit using and cannot or who are obsessed with using are candidates for addiction therapy. They may have developed chemical changes in their systems that require medications. Also, they may need to participate in therapy sessions with a counselor to change the behavior.
Setting boundaries won’t work, as the addiction has progressed too far.
Most noteworthy, it pays to tell the teen about your thought process. Suggesting that the teen could benefit from a counseling program is helpful. If the teen won’t agree to treatment, a formal intervention that includes the whole family might be a good step to take. At Newport Academy, we can provide the tools families need to hold a successful intervention.
Help for Troubled Teens at Newport Academy
If the teen does not express symptoms of mental illness or any symptoms of addiction, there are still some steps parents can take to help the teen improve behavior. For example, according to an article published by the American Academy of Family Physicians, parents of teens often criticize the teen’s behavior. Parents can find ways to flip negative comments into positive comments.
An article on the website Parents: The Anti-Drug suggests that families hold a formal meeting each and every week. Each person is allowed to speak and only positive feedback is allowed. This can help establish positive relationships.
In family sessions, all members get together with a counselor and work together to improve the group’s communication styles and promote cohesion.
In conclusion, parents of troubled teens should do their best to stay involved. They should know where the teen is going, whom the teen will be with and when the teen will be back. It might seem like babysitting, but in fact, it can be perceived as an expression of love. Parents who are involved with the teen’s life demonstrate that they care. Furthermore, it shows that they’re invested in the teen’s well-being. Sometimes, this is just the sort of validation a troubled teen needs.