Dealing With A Troubled Teenager: Part 2

Posted on July 21, 2011

If you read the first part of the article,  Dealing with a Troubled Teenager: Part 1, welcome to part 2!  In this article, we will reveal more closely the impactful ways you can relate better to your troubled teen.  Be encouraged, no parent does with stage of their child’s life with ease.  Adolescence is a vital and critical life stage.  And remember, the goal is to raise a wise and healthy adult.

Try to spend time with your teenager one-on-one.  This can be difficult especially if you and your teen have had years of prolonged suffering with each other.  If your teen doesn’t believe you are listening to them, they are very quick to tune you out of their lives.  Find a way to spend time with your teen by taking them out to their favorite place to eat or in a hangout location that works for the two of you.  Do what works for the both of you on their terms.

Be sure to talk with your teenager; not at your teenager.  Every parent struggles to learn their teenager’s language.  Parents will say, “We used to have great talks about life, and now we just don’t know how to connect anymore.”  Evaluate your end of the relationship.  Are you talking more than your teen?  Are you asking questions that allow only one word answers?  Do you find that the conversation may start well but somewhere along the way you notice your teenager is shutting down? 

Find ways to speak positively about your teenager.  As parents, it is difficult sometimes to look for the positive ways your teenager is growing and maturing.  It’s sometimes far easier to see all the ways your teen is acting immature and inadequate; rather than seeing all of the ways your teen is learning, changing and growing.  It is vital during these years to look for ways to encourage your teen’s way of thinking, separating from you and becoming individuals.  Of course, it hurts when your teen doesn’t share your same value system or perspective; every parent grieves those moments.  But remember, these are just moments.  You need to ask yourself…is it more important to be right or be in a relationship?   

Set reasonable expectations and S.M.A.R.T. goals for your teenager.  All parents struggle at some point in ensuring they’re setting reasonable expectations and goals for their teenager.  When you are evaluating how you need your teen to “step up” look to the ways you can evaluate the goals you have in mind, ask yourself is the goal/expectation:   Specific?  Measurable?  Attainable?  Realistic?  Timely?  A good example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal would be — I expect my teenager to be at home by midnight every Friday and Saturday night by the clock on the microwave in the kitchen.  Another would be, I expect my teenager to clean their room, where no items are on the floor, under the bed, or thrown into the closet and the bed neatly made by 5:00pm daily.      

Hold your teenager accountable to your expectations and goals.  Goals and expectations are only as good as you following through with them.  Don’t exacerbate (make it worse) your teen by making promises and not keeping them.  You are responsible for ensuring your teen makes the grade in your eyes.  If you give up on them, they will give up on you.  Earn your teen’s respect by holding yourself to high expectations and goals.  Remember that imitation is the greatest form of flattery!

Written By:  Sally Groff, MA, LMFT, RPT

Sally Groff is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Registered Play Therapist in Indianapolis, IN.   She is the Clinical Director of Groff & Associates and is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor.  Her passion is to offer professional, outpatient care to families.  Her desire is to celebrate great families and for our children to be ready and equipped for a bright and promised future.  Contact Sally Groff to discuss your family situation with her.

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NzE6Imh0dHA6Ly9ncm9mZmFuZGFzc29jaWF0ZXMuY29tL3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1ncm9mZl9oZWFkZXIucG5nIjt9PC9saT48L3VsPg==