• Sundance Canyon Academy

How to Stay Connected As a Parent of a Troubled Teen

Being the parent of a troubled teen is challenging. You want what’s best for them, but they behave in ways that make life difficult. They might cause trouble at home, school, or out in public. Hopefully, their behavior is limited to minor disrespect or dabbling in rebellious activities, but they can get out of control quickly.

If your teenager is pulling away from you and spending more time with friends and activities that will get them into trouble, you need to intervene immediately. Some severe behavior problems or mental health conditions are best treated with a residential teen treatment program. Other issues can be addressed at home through intentional parenting strategies.

Staying connected with your teen

One of the most significant ways to help your teen change their behavior at home is to connect with them. If your teen’s rebellious behavior or mental health struggles cause them to be disrespectful to you, spending more time with them might not seem unappealing. Why would you want to use your energy to connect with someone who makes life unpleasant?

Taking the time to connect with your teen and practice communicating can make a huge difference in your teen’s life. Even though they’re struggling to navigate life right now, they still need to know that they can count on you and that you love them despite their actions.

Here are a few tips for staying connected with your teen:

  1. Find similar interests

  2. Avoid lectures

  3. Don’t judge

  4. Use the time you have

  5. Communicate when calm

  6. Be active while you talk

  7. Don’t get competitive

  8. Prepare yourself for rejection

Find similar interests

If every little thing seems to turn into a fight between you and your teen, look for similar interests. Even if you don’t typically share their taste in music, movies, or hobbies, is there anything you even sort of like? If so, start there. Your teenager probably won’t begin to like what you like, so you might have to meet on their level.

Avoid lectures

Lectures are a one-sided conversation where you tell your teen what they’re doing wrong, and they try to tune you out. Lecturing your teen isn’t likely to change their behavior or their mindset. Try not to lecture them when they do something that upsets you. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore the behavior. Talk to them about it and leave room in the conversation for them to speak as well.

Don’t judge

Teenagers are really sensitive about the people and things that they value. If they perceive that you are judging them, they might take it personally. If your teen tries to open up to you and talk about something, listen with interest.

Use the time you have

You’re busy, and your teenager is active. You don’t need to carve extra time into your schedule to connect with your teenager. Use the moments that already exist throughout the day to try to talk to them a little more.

Communicate when calm

Staying connected as the parent of a troubled teen means choosing your moments wisely. If you’re stressed out, it’s not a good time to start a conversation. If your teen isn’t in the mood for the conversation, they might shut it down and stress you out even more.

Be active while you talk

If you are trying to connect with your teenage son, try to talk to him while doing something active. Teenagers like to avoid eye contact and shut down if a conversation with a parent feels too serious. Try to have conversations with them while doing something active like riding in a car, shopping, or cooking dinner together.

Don’t get competitive

It’s common for troubled teens to try to compete with their parents or intentionally upset their parents. When you try to connect with them, don’t get competitive. If they try to turn the conversation into a verbal sparring match, stay calm and try again later.

Prepare yourself for rejection

As a parent of a troubled teen, you should expect rejection when you try to connect with them. They might sulk, refuse to answer, or respond in irritating ways. As you keep trying to connect with them, you can make headway. Be aware that you might get shut down a lot.

What is a scared straight program?

Scared straight programs are designed to put rebellious teens in a “scary” situation so that they will improve their behavior. These programs include giving teens a prison tour with a stern security guard. The goal is to show the teen how bad things can get if they keep up with their rebellious behavior so that they will be enticed to change.

Many parents send their kids to scared straight programs or boot camps in hopes that their kids will see how good their life is and will shape up. Unfortunately, these sorts of teen intervention programs don’t tend to have the results that parents want. Instead, the teens learn to change their behavior while being watched so that they don’t get in trouble. Rather than connecting with others and genuinely living well, they learn to hide their behavior.

Therapeutic teen treatment programs address the root of behavioral problems and help the teens learn how to connect with others. Whether they act out of rebellion or have mental health struggles, teens need to identify and change the underlying problems. If teens learn to hide their behavior, the behavior will likely continue.

For more information about our therapeutic boarding school for teen boys, call us at 866-224-2733.

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