The Guide to Finding Life Direction for Boys with Behavioral Disorders

The Guide to Finding Life Direction for Boys with Behavioral Disorders


Your teenage son is acting out again, but you can’t decide if his actions are part of normal teen behavior or if there’s something else going on. All you know is you’re fed up, and not sure where to turn. You love your son, but you’re just not sure how to help him anymore.

Most Common Behavioral Disorders

The most important step in helping your son is determining the cause of his behavior. Though teenage boys can be a handful by themselves, it wouldn’t be surprising if your son is suffering from a behavioral disorder. It’s more common than you might think, and it’s the answer to many distraught parent’s problems. Some of the most common behavioral disorders include:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Essentially, this condition affects a person’s ability to properly focus and control certain impulsive behaviors. It often leads to a person becoming hyperactive or overactive. It’s more common in boys than girls, and if not treated, it can often lead to acting out and violent, rebellious behaviors.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): Approximately 40 percent of children with ADHD develop ODD. It’s a condition that includes chronic aggression, frequent outbursts, arguing, ignoring requests, and engaging in intentionally annoying behavior.

Emotional Behavioral Disorder: This condition makes it difficult for the patient to be happy, control their emotions, and pay attention in school. It has been casually given the nickname “emo,” though the disorder is far from casual. It’s often manifest by inappropriate emotions or actions under normal circumstances, learning difficulties, difficulty connecting with people and forming relationships, a general feeling of unhappiness or depression, and feelings of fear and anxiety in social situations. The result is often aggression, violence, or verbal opposition.

Anxiety: All people feel anxiety at one point in their lives, but some have severe, chronic anxiety that leads to behavioral issues. It’s an emotional condition akin to fear that can turn into negative performance at school, verbal opposition, and other acts of defiance. This is a very serious health condition that requires professional treatment.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Many fictionalized characters have made OCD seem humorous, but it’s actually a sign of deep, mental unrest. It’s characterized by fears and irrational thoughts that lead to obsessions, which leads to compulsions. Those with the condition engage in compulsive, repetitive behavior, even though they know there may be negative consequences. The actions may relieve stress temporarily for the patient. In teenage boys, this compulsive disorders can cause problems at school, whether from students who tease him for his actions or by him acting out compulsively and violently towards other students.

Though some of these disorders are rare, others are extremely common in teenage boys, and should be treated if they want to live a normal, happy life.

How Can I Help My Son?

Dealing with teenagers with behavioral disorders is no picnic. Not only must you acknowledge the emotional discomfort, but you must pair it with their unfavorable actions. When teens have behavioral disorders, they’re usually suffering in some way, and as the parent, it’s your responsibility and natural desire to help them find peace.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to focus on your son’s strengths and help him find direction in his life. Most of this comes from your efforts to provide a caring environment at home.

You can do a lot from home in helping your son recognize his ability to beat his behavioral disorder. The most important move is helping him see his own self worth. This isn’t always easy, but here are seven steps that can help.

1. Look for his strengths.

Perhaps your son has a bad attitude about his math class, but he really enjoys art. Or maybe he gets in fights at school, but he has a special soft spot for his sister. Whatever his strengths are, they can do a world of good in helping him fight his emotional illness.

2. Let his strengths define him rather than his weaknesses.

Once you’ve identified the strengths, focus on them instead of his weaknesses. He’s well-aware that he has a lot of problems; that’s partially why he acts out so much. He might not be able to see that he’s a great basketball player or that he has a smile that can light up the room. Making him aware of these strengths and guiding him to act on that knowledge can help him overcome his behavioral weaknesses.

3. Give him some direction.

Troubled teenage boys need direction. If they have something they can strive for and continually work hard to improve, they’re more likely to channel their aggression and oppositional behaviors into something that can do a little more good. Helping your son develop his strengths will give him the direction he desperately needs to overcome his disorder.

4. Narrow his choices.

A major part of giving your son direction is narrowing his choices. It takes much of the anxiety out of decision making and gives him the confidence that he can accomplish just one thing. If he makes the wrong choice, he’ll be able to understand the consequences of just one decision that will guide him to making the right choice next time.

5. Help him get involved with a positive peer group.

Being involved with other teens who struggle with similar disorders is surprisingly helpful, as long as it’s well-structured and monitored by trained adults. Putting your son with like-minded peers can help him cope with his feelings and focus on positive problem solving. Through such a program, it’s easier for teens to make connections and feel cared for.

6. Help him make a plan for the future.

Is your son currently committed to graduating high school? If not, it’s likely because he doesn’t think he can. His rebellious behavior could be a sign that he’s struggling with self-belief, which you can instill in him through positive reinforcement. Help him map out a plan for the future so he knows there are bigger opportunities to move towards. Point out his strengths in school and teach him he can do anything if he tries. Keep him moving forward, even when he wants to stop or move backwards.

7. Be his cheerleader.

Support his good decisions and help him see when he’s done something right. In addition, don’t let his behavioral disorder define him. Help him see that he can be anything he wants to be if he puts in the effort. You’ll be amazed how much a little positive reinforcement can promote his well being.

Send Your Son to a School That Can Help


Teens with behavioral problems often need the right environment to excel. At Sundance Canyon Academy, we focus on treating and helping boys ages 13-17 work through therapy sessions and treatment programs in order to help them see their self-worth and live a normal life. For more information about the program we offer, contact us today.