Addressing Self-Destructive Behavior With Your Teen Without Triggering Defense Tactics
Parents struggle every day with making wise decisions when it comes to their child, knowing that their poor choices might damage him or her. A child might become self-destructive for a multitude of reasons, such as dealing with a parent’s divorce, preferential treatment to a sibling with a learning disability, a difficult move and more. He or she might grow resentful and act out in destructive ways. The troubled teen might get in trouble with the law, start harming themselves or stop caring about their own future.
Parents try to defend themselves by insisting that they are justified in their behaviors, but even so, resentment might build up subconsciously in the child and create problems. Sometimes, time away at a therapeutic boarding school can do a troubled child a world of good. But parents often find it difficult to bring up these kinds of solutions without experiencing their teen’s defense mechanisms.
Talking About Self-Destructive Behavior
Trying to talk to a teen with self-destructive behavior can be difficult because, many times, the teen has no real idea why they are self-destructive. Parents should avoid accusing their teen and should not handle treatment as punishment to stop their behavior. On the other hand, parents also need to avoid trying to become too involved in their child’s life as this will only aggravate the situation.
The first step to stopping self-destructive behavior is to encourage your child to talk about their anger in constructive ways. Instead of lashing out at a teen so that he or she becomes defensive, parents need to talk to their teens about their feelings and what makes them so angry. Giving your child outlets for their anger helps diffuse the tension and starts them talking, which can pave the way for real healing.
Reform Schools and Juvenile Detention Centers
Using a reform school or a juvenile detention center might destroy a troubled teen’s psyche just as much as punishments and threats from parents. A therapeutic approach from trained professionals can do much more for your child than corporal punishment. Look behind the behaviors to find the reason for your child’s self-destructive actions. Therapy — as opposed to punishment — provides an excellent way to find the root of those issues, discuss them and work to address them in a healthy manner.
Each teen has different problems, which is another reason that the therapeutic approach to self-destructive behavior is so effective. A military camp or reform school applies the same approach and principles to every teen. Not only does this not address the core issues, but it can worsen the situation. A therapeutic approach looks for the real causes for teen anger and then gives your teen practical ways to put those problems behind him.
When it comes to a self-destructive teen, listening works more effectively than shouting. In extreme cases, such as teens who cut themselves or physically harm themselves, parents need to understand that finding help for their child is the very best approach. Parents should never let pride and a lack of understanding stand in the way of seeking the help their teen needs.