7 Secrets to Surviving a Troubled Teen

Help for Parents of Troubled Teens

Raising a troubled teen is difficult.
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Parenting a teen is hard work. Parenting a troubled teen can feel like an insurmountable task. Behavior problems, substance abuse, education issues, and family conflict are just a few of the challenges families of troubled teens face.

Whether your teen has a mental health problem, an ongoing behavioral issue, or you she suspect she's just through a 'phase,' these tips can help you successfully parent a troubled teen.

1. Don't Blame Yourself

Blaming yourself for a parenting mistake you made years ago or refusing to forgive yourself for getting a divorce, won't help your teen's behavior now. Usually, there isn't a clear way to identify all the factors that may be contributing to the problems your teen is experiencing now.

The last thing you want to do is to give your teen an excuse for her behavior. If you blame yourself, your teen might avoid taking responsibility for her choices by blaming you for ruining her life. 

2. Ask For Help

You can't be all things to your teen. Be a good role model by showing your teen it's OK to ask for help when you need it. Reach out to other adults and mental health professionals who have the knowledge and ability to help your teen. Seek professional help for your teen and view yourself as a strong parent who knows when help is needed and how to find it.

3. Be Honest

If you think your teen is having problems that go beyond the normal struggles of adolescence, then you are probably right.

You know your teen better than anyone else. Listen to your inner wisdom in this regard. Listen to that nagging voice in your head that says something with your teen isn't quite right.

4. Seek Support

Let relatives and friends know about your concerns for your teen and listen to their feedback and suggestions.

Invite other adults to talk spend time with your teen and let them help you too.

Ask trusted friends to help out by keeping an eye on your teen. Or just call your friends to process your feelings or spend some time with you doing a leisure activity. Find ways that you and your partner can support and lean on each other during difficult times with your teen.

5. Stay Open and Flexible

Be open to new ideas and ways of helping your teen. If a mental health professional makes suggestions, listen. Ultimately, the choices are yours, but a willingness to consider a variety of treatment options could be instrumental in helping you get the help you need.  

6. Practice Patience

That old expression that patience is a virtue has much validity in raising a troubled teen. In fact, it's a necessity. Be patient with your teen's problems, patient with yourself and your ability to help your teen figure it out. When your teen is in treatment, be patient with the process of healing. Expecting immediate results could lead you to give up too soon.

7. Acknowledge Your Stress

You can only bend so far before you break. Pay attention to signs of exhaustion from dealing with your teen. Know when you need a break and take it. If you are engaging in a power struggle with your teen, be the one to walk away.

And remember, teens are resilient. With your ongoing care, concern and direction most teens will get better and grow up to be happy, health adults.

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