Is Parenting Troubled Teenagers a Difficult Task

- | 69 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Family & Parenting

a troubled teenager entangled in the parenting web

Having a hard time parenting troubled teenagers? Well, you are not alone because most parents find parenting a troubled teenager an uphill task.

Parenting teenagers who are troubled due to any reason could be an overwhelming experience for you and your family, but you need to know that it’s a passing phase.

Let’s face it – we too were teenagers at some point of time, and some of us could’ve been the typical case study for troubled behavior. But now that we’re on the other side, it’s a totally different story.

With changing times, nowadays teenagers have greater exposure and experiences than we did when we were teens; however, the teen behavior patterns and characteristics remain the same.

As parents of troubled teenagers you may worry because your teen is violent, withdrawn, angry, and defiant. You may feel overwhelmed, angry, and worried at times, and your home may be filled with tension and chaos. Sounds familiar?

“You can tell a child is growing up when he stops asking where he came from and starts refusing to tell where he is going.” ~Author Unknown

Who is a Troubled Teenager?

A ‘troubled teenager’ is a youth who has problems that cause negative behaviors, and if these problems keep affecting the teen, he/she will not grow into a happy and successful adult.

“Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.”  ~Arnold H. Glasow

What are the Problems of a Troubled Teenager?

Teenagers are rebellious, they are in search of their identity, they want recognition, and they want to be independent. They are no longer children and they are yet to be adults – they are in a confused identity zone.

Not all teenagers are plagued by troubled behavior, but typical teenage problems are related to drug, alcohol abuse, normal teenage angst, and depression. Such troubled teens can upset the peace of your home and the family.

These problems can be the inability to deal with the normal issues teens face or are beyond the normal issues. They can range from anything related to their environment like dealing with poor peer group, abusive relationships, to mental and physical health issues like diabetes or ADD/ADHD and others.

If the behavior of your troubled teen seems to be the result of something that isn’t normal trouble, then you may need professional help. But first you need to look for the warning signs yourself, analyze the teen behavior, and appropriately deal with it.

You also need to remember to have a loving and supportive family and a home where rules are obeyed. This helps prevent troubling teenage tornadoes to happen and helps handling more severe teenage problems.

Look Out for the Warning Signs of Troubled Teenagers!

Most teens can show the below mentioned signs at different times, but when there are more than six of these warning signs that remain for an extended period of time then you would know that you are dealing with a troubled teen.

A typical troubled teenager exhibits these warning signs:

  • Has mood swings that go to extreme levels.
  • Avoids positive friendship and/or a sudden change in peers.
  • Scores low grades or there’s a drop in grades.
  • Shows intense sadness and/or impulsive temper.
  • Becomes secretive.
  • Loses interest in activities.
  • Tries purposely not to fit in with peers.
  • Begins to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
  • Rebels openly.
  • Fails to follow limits and rules.
  • Finds humor when others are distressed.
  • Spends too much time sleeping or being alone.
  • Has a more defiant and rude attitude.
  • Turns to lying by feeling the need to avoid all consequences for misbehavior.

Now that we understand the problem and know how it appears, we need to develop a strategy to successfully parent troubled teenagers.

“Your children need your presence more than your presents.” ~ Jesse Jackson

Always Analyze Teen Behavior

Whenever you want to understand teenagers, you need to carefully analyze their behavior, which includes all that happens before, during, and after the troubled behavior.

Once you have understood the specific troubled teenage behavior you can begin aiming at the unwanted behavior, which means you need to study an encounter after it’s over.

You may need to use behavior therapy or modification techniques when you begin targeting a troubled teen behavior, so that you can replace the negative behavior with a positive one.

“Stop trying to perfect your child, but keep trying to perfect your relationship with him.” ~ Dr. Henke

Ways to Deal with Troubled Teenagers as Parents

There are various ways for parenting troubled teenagers as mentioned below:

1- Be supportive, talk, and listen to them

The best thing you can do for your teenagers is to be a supportive parent, by being there for them and be willing to talk and listen to them. Create a family bonding time where you can all share things with one another in the family.

Also, always be available for talks, which helps a great deal if your troubled teenagers are involved in risky behaviors, drugs, alcohol, or are becoming depressed or suicidal.

2- Love them unconditionally

Ensure that your teens know that you love and care for them, even if you don’t approve of their behavior. I know it gets tough being parents when your teenage kids don’t listen to you, but this way to deal does help a great deal.

Find ways to connect with them and express your love and concern even when it’s not asked for. This gives them a sense of being loved and security that we care and are with them.

3- Praise their smallest of efforts

Being parents of teenagers, you need to remember to thank or praise them for helping around the house. When you reinforce positive behaviors with praise, it’s magical as teens feel they have achieved something and are motivated further.

Sometimes teenagers do grumble about doing a chore assigned, but you need to remain cool and refrain from lecturing them or telling them things that may hurt. Instead, thank them for the work they do and appreciate their efforts.

My teenage girls are just like that – they just won’t do chores around the house anymore! This has happened recently when they stepped into their teens, and that does tend to get me angry.

But I remember my time, just as you would remember your time as a teenager, and I know that this is a passing phase that all of us have undergone, and soon they will grow out of it.

So, it’s best to keep praising them often for the good things they do, just like our parents did with us, and then watch the magic!

4- Set rules and stick to them

When your teenage kids don’t behave the way they are supposed to, you sometimes need to set curfew. Make sure that there are consequences set for breaking the rules, and you need to carry them out consistently.

The consequences could be in the form of banning their computer or Internet, or restricting their usage of cell phones, or asking them to stay at home the next day. Anything works as long as they learn to behave.

However, you need to be careful in selecting the form of the rule breaking consequences – they need to be appropriate, just, and not be too hard on your teenage children.

Stand firm in your decision, as many troubled teenagers feel that if they argue long with you, you may become tired and give in. But yes, hear them out and if they apologize then perhaps give in.

Even though I wasn’t really a troubled teen, but whenever I did trouble my parents, I was grounded for the next day. But I was quick to get around my parents and apologize, and they were quick enough to forgive me too!

I try doing the same with my kids and sometimes things just don’t work and they tend to get stubborn, which is when I have to try other techniques. So, parenting teenagers is all a game of hit and trial, and depends on what works for you and your children.

5- Give them a warm home

Troubled teens need a place where they can discuss their problems, talk out their feelings, and confide in their parents. And a warm home with loving parents is just that kind of place, when everyone can have a family time together.

Being parents, when you show your vulnerabilities to your teenagers it shows you are providing a surrounding where honesty can thrive.

Also, encourage  your teens to bring in their friends at home so that you also know them, though stick to your terms and conditions for things like drinking, smoking, or other activities that you don’t approve of.

6- Encourage extracurricular activities

As far as possible, one of the best remedies for your troubled teens is to encourage extracurricular activities like sports, music, or any hobby they are interested in.

These give the teenagers a vent for their energy and their mind doesn’t really go haywire. Also, they are an important area where they can work hard and do well. When they are busy, they are less likely to be bothersome teenagers.

7- Learn to be a better parent

While I discussed mainly about how best you can deal with troubled teenagers, I should mention here that you also need to become better parents and always make yourself available for your teenagers.

I guess it makes a lot of difference if you try putting yourself in their shoes and think the way they do. How would you react or how would you feel? So, handle them with care.

Often times you may get too involved in work and when they come to you with their worries or problems, you tend to shun them or ask them to come later, which may just make them go elsewhere or feel unheard, unloved, and uncared-for.

I have been guilty of doing this and I keep reminding myself to stop all work and just hear them out first, as that’s exactly what my mom used to do, which makes mothers so special – isn’t it?

“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” ~ Harry S Truman.

Parenting difficult teens is a real challenge, and it’s a full time job that can be stressful at times and can even turn a patient parent into an anxious one. It surely turns me into one with two of them to handle!

Remember, teenagers are resilient and talks with them often lead to arguments or hurtful words said to one another. But when you positively parent your teens you bring in more harmony into the home, and that makes a lot of difference.

With time you learn how to parent your troubled teenager and improve relationship with them. And with your care, concern, love, and guidance, most teenagers get better and grow up to be happy, successful, and healthy adults.

To wind up, there’s wonderful advice for parents of troubled teens by Dr.Phil, so be sure to check it out if you can’t find solutions yourself. Also, here is a wonderful video about how to deal with your teen by parenting expert Suzie Hayman that you are sure to like.

Over to you

Having been a teenager yourself, how do you feel your parents managed troubled teens? If you are a parent of a teenager, what suggestions would you give to other readers about parenting troubled teenagers? Share in the comments below.

Photo Credit: martinak15

Show Comments

69 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Corina Ramos

    2013-11-27 at 7:27 am

    Hi Harleena!

    I saw your post on Twitter and just had to come by and read it.

    Out of the 5 kids I only had one troubled teen but thank goodness he’s turned his life around. It’s going to be hard for him because of all the mistakes he’s made but he’s my son and I’m going to support him.

    I always say it’s too bad our kids didn’t come with a book of instructions but they didn’t. I learned some stuff on the way to raising my first two teens so by the time my other kids entered their teen years I had an idea of what to do ;).

    I’m not saying my parents didn’t raise me right but they stuck to how their parents raised them which was very strict. We didn’t talk about stuff like sex…we were just told not to do it. I make it a point to talk to my kids about anything no matter how uncomfortable the topic is.

    My advice for parents is to keep talking to their kids. Communication is important and they do open up and share after a while.

    Great post Harleena! Hope you’re having a great week my friend!

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-11-27 at 6:14 pm

      Hi Corina,

      Ah…that’s SO sweet of you to have stopped by to read this one, and I know it does relate a lot to what you write about on your new blog 🙂

      That’s absolutely alright at the end of the day, if you compare him to what he was earlier I think. Yes, your support is what he’d need right through, and I think learning from his mistakes will only make him wiser and stronger as a person.

      You’re certainly not the only one to feel that way, Corina. Life surely has its own ways of coming up with things, and even if we read about it or hear other parents’ experiences, there are no guarantees that our kids will turn out to be like we imagined. I guess we too were like that, though certainly much better in many ways than our kids 🙂

      I completely agree with you there. I think in our times, our parents were a lot conservative in many ways, and topics of sex were a taboo for sure. At least we are open about such things with our kids – we have to be in times like these! Yes indeed, having open communication with your kids IS essential, and you need to be their friend when need be, and a parent too when required – a perfect blend of both 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with us. Have a nice week as well 🙂

  2. Shitij

    2013-03-03 at 12:36 pm

    When I was a teenager, my mom used to literally keep a check on my behavior by taking advice from experts or by googling…now I am past that stage and would recommend my aunts to read this awesome article as they are going through this stage having problems with their teenage sons

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-03-03 at 6:08 pm

      Welcome to the blog Shitij!

      Yes indeed, when children and teens are young, parents need to keep a constant check on them, and surely parenting troubled teenagers or even normal teens is no easy task. It is a passing phase and things settle down once the teens are past that stage. Hope the post helps your aunts in raising her teenage sons. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  3. Adam Snyder

    2012-06-13 at 5:02 am

    Great article.

    I don’t know about parenting a troubled teen since my son is only 3 years old but if how he is right now is any indication, then I have nothing to worry about. I was not a troubled teen myself, however, I did do everything that I could to push the limits.


    • Harleena Singh

      2012-06-13 at 9:46 am

      Glad you liked the article Adam!

      Ah…you surely have a long way to go before your son turns into a teen, and I’m sure you would make a wonderful father where there would be no question of a troubled teen around. 🙂

      I guess all of us are a troublesome in our teens – ask our parents about that! But that is normal too to a certain extent.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  4. Mary

    2012-06-04 at 9:22 pm

    This is such a delicate and sensitive topic.

    I don’t have teenagers of my own yet, there’s a 7 year wait for me. But I do have a stepdaughter and it has been a difficult time for our family recently. I wish this post had been around about 2 years ago. If I had been able to read the signs you pointed out maybe things would have turned out differently. You see my stepdaughter had slid into depression and we didn’t see it. We thought she was being rebellious. The worst part was that her father wouldn’t listen, I mean, really listen to her. To make a long story short, she ended up getting pregnant and having to drop out of university. It shattered all our dreams, hers and ours.

    Now she’s picking up the pieces and we’re trying to help her as best we can. It is truly difficult to parent a troubled teen, especially an introvert like my stepdaughter (and as shared in the discussion thread). I was also an introvert as a teenager and I know my mother had a hard time with me on top of the difficulties she was having with my father. I resolved to be a better parent when I had my own children but I feel like a failure because of how my stepdaughter’s life has turned out.

    One lesson I have learned out of this experience is to forgive. As a (step)parent this was so hard to do. What happened was like a betrayal. We were both very very angry with her. But you know that it’s been said that the bitterness and anger within can only be released by forgiveness. When I realized this, I was able to let go of all that negativity. Now I want to give her the support and love she needs so she can move on with her life and make better decisions for herself and our grandson.

    Thank you for sharing this. I learned much from this post and discussion.

    Warmest regards,
    Mary from the Philippines

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-06-05 at 12:33 pm

      Glad you could relate to the post Mary!

      Yes indeed, parenting troubled teenagers is an uphill task in most of the cases, and surely a delicate topic of discussion – though I am glad you still have time to think about it. 🙂

      I guess I thought about this topic when my kids reached their teens, which made me realize further about parents who must be having troubled teens in their family, whom raising would be much more challenging than raising normal teens in most families.

      In the case of your stepdaughter, I think you couldn’t have known how to read the warning signs as you read on the post, which may have made you think that she is being rebellious, when the main cause was depression. This is quite normal in teens, as I see my elder one get into her mood swings rather often, but yes, we as parents understand what she is undergoing and talk therapy does wonders for her, which is what my husband is wonderful at.

      Your stepdaughter must have been under severe depression and having undergone so much, it must have been tough for all of you as a family. The teenage years have to be ‘handled with care’ in all aspects, and being parents we need to be aware of the symptoms teens portray sometimes.

      Being an introvert is all the more a reason that they need to be talked to, so that they come out of their shell and share all that they are feeling or undergoing, which again very few parents are able to do. But I am glad you are all with her and she’s learning to deal with things now, and you don’t have to call yourself a failure, because you really didn’t know how to deal with a teen that time and the amount you learnt thereafter is what will help you all right through.

      I can well understand the anger and resentment you both must have experienced because she betrayed you, but there must be a reason for the way she acted and all that she did, which you may not have known earlier. So, forgiving her and holding her hand is the best thing you can do as parents, which will help her a great deal in her life ahead.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with everyone. 🙂

  5. Ahsan

    2012-05-28 at 3:42 pm

    It is common that there are good and bad relationship in each family between parents and children. If children do anything bad, parents must tell them why it is bad. Otherwise, children tend to think what what they are doing is good.
    Very details information on understanding teenagers behavior. I appreciate your post 🙂

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-05-29 at 6:20 pm

      Glad you could resonate with the post Ahsan!

      There are good and bad in all relationships, and the relationship between parent and child can be of misunderstandings sometimes that can arise due to communication gaps. Children always need guidance from their parents, even when they become teens, though as they grow older they should be allowed to take a few decisions alone too.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  6. Jodi

    2012-05-24 at 5:01 am

    Harleenas great post, great info and as usual the discussion you instigated is amazing!

    It is a book in and of itself! I love the care you put into responding to people!. Each response is like a new post! Hats off to you!

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-05-24 at 6:19 pm

      Glad you liked the post Jodi!

      Yes, the discussion on this post has indeed been wonderful for which I need to thank all my readers and commenters. I love responding to their comments, as for me it’s almost like I’m talking to them, which makes the connection even better – isn’t it?

      Ahhh…haven’t thought about creating a book from the post or creating a new post from the comments – like your idea though!

      Thanks so much for the warm and kind words. Always a pleasure to have you over. 🙂

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Is Parenting Troubled Teenagers a Difficult Task

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