Parents struggling with out of control teens often comfort themselves by saying that it’s a phase that will pass, and that all parents go through the same thing with their teens. However, there’s always that doubt and worry that your out of control teen’s destructive behavior will be a pattern that they will carry to their adult years. Aside from that, destructive behavior can sometimes bring consequences that are far-reaching. Parents want their teens to not just survive their teenage years but to also enjoy them. Some troubled teens end up regretting the choices they made because it led them to drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, trouble with the law, and many other issues.
Keep in mind that when teens seem “out of control”, it’s actually their way of being in control. At the very least, they use this behavior to control their parents’ reactions. Parents need to understand what behaviors can be considered acceptable, and those that can be considered as warning signs to more serious problems. Being moody, short-tempered, restless, secretive or other similar attitudes aren’t usually cause for alarm. However, when your teen starts being abusive (physically, verbally, or emotionally) towards siblings or other kids, when they start stealing, coming home intoxicated or high on drugs, not coming home some nights, or getting in trouble with the law, these are signs that should not be ignored.
Here are 13 simple tips that may help parents get their out of control teens back on the right track:
- Talk to your teen – Teens will probably tell you why they’re acting the way that they are acting, but it’s rarely the real reason. Listen to them and read between the lines. Help your teen figure out what they are feeling because sometimes they need to be walked through these things too.
- Reiterate house rules – Teens will challenge your rules and often ignore them, but you need to stick to them anyway.
- Follow through with consequences – Being consistent with consequences is a helpful way of teaching teens about accountability. Taking away privileges may work.
- Pick your battles – Picking on every little thing that your teen does wrong will create a toxic home atmosphere. Pick your battles and stick to the issues that are really important for you.
- Respect – Respect your teen even when you don’t agree with them. Fights can get ugly with troubled teens, but it’s important to exercise restraint rather than escalate confrontations with your teen.
- Connect – Spend time with your teen, even if it’s just daily family dinners together. It may be difficult to convince them to spend time with family, but a consistent effort also sends a strong message to your teen.
- Teach problem-solving – Teach your teen how to solve problems. Most of the time, their bad attitude comes from the fact that they’re handling problems poorly and don’t know a better way to react.
- Coordinate with the school – If your teen has a problem with truancy or being disruptive at school, coordinating with teachers and guidance counselors at school will help you monitor your child’s progress and gain an insight on what could be causing your teen to act out.
- Involve your family – In dealing with troubled teens, it’s best to have your family’s support behind you. Go to family counseling if necessary. This is because dealing with troubled teens is a family affair, it involves family members. To create a positive home environment, the cooperation of other members of the family is also needed.
- Don’t shield your teen from consequences – Well-meaning parents oftentimes do more harm to their teen when they shield them from the consequences of their bad decisions. If your teen’s truancy leads them to be expelled from school, let your teen experience and appreciate the consequences. Don’t make it easy for your teen to misbehave.
- Seek help for yourself – Many people will agree that changing parenting styles may also inspire change in troubled teens. However, not everything is in the hands of parents. Seeking therapy will help you learn more about positive parenting and may shed light on previously unnoticed negative patterns in the household.
- Express love – It may not have immediate results, but expressing your love for your teen clearly and consistently is an important part of helping them get back on the right track.
- Consider other forms of intervention – At times, out of control teens need more help than they can get from their home. It’s during these times that residential therapy may make a huge difference.