There is no doubt that adolescence is a difficult time for almost all human beings. From raging hormones to a developing sense of independence and a broadening world view, there are a great number of changes that occur in adolescence that make it a trying time for even the most well-adjusted teens. For some, however, adolescence is a time when anything from hormonal changes to buried childhood traumas that suddenly surface can send teen behavior spiraling out of control. These episodes and experiences affect everyone from their immediate families to their peers and even supportive adults like teachers, coaches and close family friends. For families struggling with teen behavioral issues, here are 4 ways to navigate through these troubled times.
Put on your own oxygen mask first
Many times, out-of-control parents can’t understand where their out-of-control teen’s behavior is coming from. Parents that recognize no limits in areas like spending or personal behaviors can’t understand why their teens push back fiercely on any attempts to set limits on them. In other cases, parents are often so stressed out and overworked that they have little, if any, time to devote to their teens. This can sometimes cause an anger and rage in their teen that just causes the parent to retreat even further. Whatever the cause, parents can often help their teen significantly by addressing their own issues first or delving into them simultaneously with their teen.
Get some distance
While it may seem cruel to “punish” your teen by sending them away, sometimes, the best thing for both of you is to retreat to neutral territory. This doesn’t necessarily mean sending your teen to a relative’s home or to live with an ex-spouse, sometimes it means sending your teen to a professional facility like Diamond Ranch Academy where they can receive treatment and help in dealing with the underlying issues causing out-of-control behaviors.
Get some help
Too often, parents dealing with out-of-control teenagers are ashamed and embarrassed and feel their teen’s behavior is a sure indication that they are bad parents. In reality, while parents can certainly be a contributing factor to adolescent issues, there are literally hundreds of other reasons out-of-control behavior might suddenly surface. Don’t let your fear of simply being a “bad parent” keep you from reaching out for help. This help may come in the form of a support group, a medical or psychological diagnosis or even just developing a friendship with someone having a similar experience with their teen.
Be your teen’s best advocate
No matter what, remember that your teen is most likely as confused and bewildered by their own behavior as you are. In many cases, they don’t want to lash out in anger but find themselves lashing out the hardest at the ones they love the most, for reasons they don’t understand. No matter what, it is hugely important to remember that your teen is going through one of the most difficult and painful phases of their entire life. Many of their behaviors, from sexual arousal to inexplicable rage, are largely completely out of their control at this stage in their development.
While it is important that you don’t simply bury your head, look the other way or try to pass off extreme behavior as just being a “normal” part of adolescence, it’s also important to help them differentiate between behaving badly and being a bad person. They are most likely already feeling a mountain of guilt over their behavior, it’s important for you – as the parent – to not pile on.
There is hope.
Navigating through even the most troubled teen years is possible, and some of the most troubled teens have gone on to be highly respected and productive adults. Some of your teen’s behaviors may be the result of failures in your own life, but many are not. Do your best to not jump to conclusions or self-diagnose the problem. Accept that when it comes to your teen, you probably lack some crucial perspective. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and for professional help in particular.
To that end, you don’t always have to accept the first diagnosis or label placed on your teen either. While your teen’s teachers and guidance counselors clearly have experience in dealing with adolescents, they also see your teen every day, live in your community and may even be unwittingly influenced by the prejudices of your teen’s peers. Not to mention the fact that the failure to properly guide and shepherd your teen may be their own, but it is far easier to blame your teen than themselves.
Before accepting any diagnosis about your teen’s behaviors, it is important to consult both medical and mental health professionals that have no relationship with you or your teen. They are the ones that stand the best chance of giving you a fair and impartial diagnosis that is free of the influence of either their relationship to you or to your teen.