Have you ever noticed how obsessed parents have become with being perfect? Parenting blogs show only the positive side of the writer’s experience. Magazines point to the happy, smiling family and make those reading feel inadequate. Television shows glamorize even the hard times. It is no surprise that the average parent feels overwhelmed, and under equipped for handling the realities of life with their children.
But in this critical time of self-reflection, parents are often missing the obvious. They are failing to recognize true red flags versus normal misbehavior. They are being too harsh on the small things, and too lenient on the big ones. They are even letting their fear override facts, and it is impacting their entire household in negative ways.
The Age Of Too Much Diligence
Helicopter parenting has become a bit of a buzzword, but it is an apt description for a common style of child rearing today. In spite of the fact that in many ways our world is safer than it has ever been before, parents are terrified of everything from stranger abduction to mercury in vaccines. This is leading to a generation of bubble children who grow into teens unprepared for the struggles of everyday life.
Teenagers are especially prone to the negatives of too much diligence and overprotectiveness. It often leads to acting out, but what constitutes normal rebellion?
When Teenagers Begin To Rebel
All teenagers push against their boundaries. Some of them do it openly, sometimes as a way to publically announce their independence. Others do so quietly, hiding their indiscretions from their parents, knowing that they will be punished. Some rule breaking, and even some experimentation, is often a normal part of adolescence.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take an active role in sniffing it out, or punishing it. Rules may be broken from time to time, but the consequences have to be clear. Your role as a parent is not to hover, but to set guidelines for behavior to be followed. When your teen rebels, you are there to put on the breaks and make them see that those actions have a price.
Failing to set boundaries can lead to serious problems in the future. Your teen will begin to feel that they can get away with anything, and start to toe those edges even closer. Their actions will end up crossing more lines, and moving further and further away from the rules you have set. In the end this can end up putting them on the other side of the law, leading to issues like teen pregnancy and addiction, and more.
It is crucial that you continue to teach responsibility well into the teenage years.
Knowing When There Is a Real Problem
Of course, real problems could occur without this learning curve, or even without you failing in your parenting duties. When a teenager becomes troubled, their behavior can move from merely rebellious into dangerous. There may be long term consequences that could have a severe impact on their life. In the meantime, you and everyone in your home can feel like they are drowning under the stress and conflict being generated on a daily basis.
What constitutes a serious problem? There are a number of red flags that show a deeper issue is brewing; they include:
Substance abuse or addiction
Physical acting out
Using threats or manipulation to get their way
Issues with peers
An inability to attach to loved ones
Sexual compulsivity and continued pornography use
Suicidal threats or ideation
Chronic or compulsive lying
Repeated problems with the police
Difficulty containing or controlling emotions, leading to severe outbursts
Diagnosed personality disorders
Diagnosed mood disorders
Stealing, vandalism or other criminal behaviors
A combination of these factors, or others not listed, may be present. Given the serious nature of each, it is safe to assume it is beyond the usual teenage rebellion we see in youths. The fact that any one of the listed items can lead to a permanent impact on your child’s life makes it a much more critical situation than if they were simply pushing boundaries, and testing the waters.
Parents who are struggling with a troubled teen often feel a great deal of guilt over the actions of their child. They wonder what they did wrong, how they might have done better, and what they can do now. Some may fear for their child’s future, and so they cover up the activities of their teen in an attempt to shield them from legal intervention. But that is the worst thing they could possibly do, and over time the problem only grows. Eventually there will be no choice but for social services or the police to get involved. In particular if the teen has a history of problems.
Turning To Professionals For Help
If any of the above sounds familiar, or you are just at your wit’s end, it may be time to call in for some professional help. An expert in behavioral psychology, who is familiar with patterns commonly found in troubled teens, can take a look at your particular situation. They will be able to tell you if any special programs may help you to get your child under control, and get to the bottom of what is causing their behavior.
In some cases they may recommend a residential treatment center, or a therapeutic boarding school. These are secure, therapy based environments that combine intensive one on one and group therapy with academic advisors, tutors, and specially trained teachers. Through a rigorous program they will help your teen to curb their behavior, learning coping mechanisms for extreme emotions, deal with past trauma, and improve academic performance.
Parents are often hesitant to consider a boarding school, seeing it as an extreme option. They may also feel guilty for considering sending their teenager away. But when the situation is serious, it can be the best solution for the entire family.
Find out more about parenting a troubled teen by visiting Sundance Academy.