<When you have a troubled teenage son you may wonder how he’ll make it through adolescence, let alone transition to a successful adult. And your son will need significant support to overcome the challenges holding him back. This may involve therapy, or he may benefit from attending a therapeutic boarding school for troubled teens.
The following are 4 steps, however, are measures you can undertake right at home to turn your troubled son’s life around.
1. Teach Your Teen To Cope With Strong Emotions
Children look to what we do rather than what we say, so it’s important for parents to model emotional regulation and demonstrate healthy coping mechanisms.
If you’re always flying off the handle–screaming, crying, hitting and throwing things–your teen will assume this is normal. With this in mind, look for calmer ways to release your frustration. For instance, the next time you’re arguing with your son, suggest you both take a break and reconvene when you’ve calmed down. Encourage your teen to find healthy ways to relieve anger, like:
Dancing along to loud music
Relaxation techniques, like deep breathing
Expressing himself through art or writing
Hitting a punching bag or pillow
Participating in sports or exercise
Help Your Teen Identify Triggers
Anger can seem to come out of nowhere, but there are often predictors. If your teen tends to become enraged in a certain class or when a particular topic is broached, these circumstances can be identified as triggers.
Your son still has to go to his math class and you still have the right to ask him to clean his room. By noticing when he’s in a situation likely to set him off, however, your troubled teen can take precautions to keep a cooler head.
It’s great to be proactive, but there should still be consequences for inappropriate displays of fury. If your teen punches a hole in the wall, uses profanity while arguing with you or hits his brother, he should lose certain privileges like the use of his cell phone. He should also make reparations in the form of an apology and, in the case of the damaged wall, some spackling.
Once he’s calmed down, discuss the natural consequences of losing control with your son. Let him know if a fight escalates to where you’re concerned about your safety, his safety or the wellbeing of family members, you’re duty-bound to call the police. Losing control can also put him in danger of fighting with peers and losing friends.
If your son continues to have trouble managing his anger, he may have issues that need to be addressed through therapy and/or medication. Or, he can benefit from attending a therapeutic boarding school for troubled teens.
2. Connect With Your Troubled Teen
Maintaining a connection with your troubled teen can be challenging. Adolescents tend to hide behind earbuds and electronic screens, respond to questions with monosyllabic answers and bristle at parental advice.
Just because it’s difficult, however, doesn’t mean you should give up. The best way to get your son to open up is spending time with him. Sit down for meals, without the distraction of cell phones. The commute to your son’s school and activities is another opportunity to bond. There’s no guarantee your son will share his struggles or even the details of his day, but your presence will assure him you’ll be there when he wants to talk.
3. Don’t Try To Go It Alone
There’s an African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This adage holds especially true when you’re raising a troubled teenager.
If your son is having academic struggles, reach out to his teachers. Find out how he can improve slipping grades, including making up missed assignments and seeing a tutor. If a learning disability is at play, ask your son’s school administration what resources and accommodations are available.
If your son is showing signs of emotional issues or mental illness, it’s also time to reach out for support. There may be counseling available through your son’s school, or you may want to seek out a good therapist. Problems requiring more rigorous intervention, like attending a therapeutic boarding school for troubled teens, include:
Drug or alcohol abuse
An eating disorder
Gang activity, fighting or bullying
Risky sexual activity
Rule-breaking and defiance
Severe anxiety, depression or other mental disorders
Truancy, breaking curfew or running away
4. Help Your Teen Give His Problems A Rest
Adolescents tend to develop irregular sleeping habits, partly because they release melatonin–a hormone controlling the sleep-wake cycle–two hours later than children and adults. This makes it hard for them to fall asleep earlier than 11 p.m. Other things that keep teens awake are:
Being wired from too much caffeine, sugar or electronics
Difficulty quieting their brains
Late-night texting, gaming or TV-watching
While adolescents need 9 ½ hours of sleep a night, the average teen only gets about 7 hours, according to John Hopkins experts. The resulting sleep deficit can lead to side effects like:
Problems with focus, memory and decision-making
Risky behavior like drinking or reckless driving
You can help your teen get more sleep by encouraging him to:
Get more sunlight
Take a short afternoon nap
Create sleep rituals like reading, listening to music or taking a bath
Follow a digital curfew, where electronics are turned off an hour before bedtime.
If the situation seems beyond repair, we encourage you to contact us at Help Your Teen Now. We can help you find the right therapeutic boarding school for your troubled teen son, where he’ll receive the support he needs to move past his problems toward a brighter future. Because we’re parents as well as professionals, all of our advice is free.