Helping the Troubled Teenager

February 9, 2015 Lauren Hardy, MA

The teenage years are never easy, but when you have a teen who is demonstrating a number of behavioral problems, being a parent during this time can be even more difficult. Having a teenager who is violent, engages in reckless behavior, or uses drugs and/or alcohol can leave you feeling at a loss for what you can do to correct these deviant behaviors. You may have many sleepless nights where you lay awake wondering what trouble your child is going to get into next, worrying that he or she may severely hurt him or herself, and trying to think of anything you can do that might help the situation.

Lauren Hardy M.A., writes on behalf of Cedar Crest Behavioral Healthcare System, which provides innovative behavioral health and substance abuse treatment for children, adolescents, adults, senior adults, and military personnel.

Identifying Problematic Behavior in Your Teen

Do you have a troubled teenager, a teen who is exhibiting serious behavior problems? Here are things parents can do to help their troubled teen.It is very common for teenagers to go through a number of behavioral changes as they try to establish their independence and, while the more frequent rebellion and mood swings may be frustrating, these actions are completely normal. However, if you have a child who is struggling with behavioral issues, the problems you are going to face will be much more challenging. A troubled teenager will struggle with behavioral, emotional, or learning problems that are well beyond the normal issues faced by youth. Described in more detail below are behaviors that may indicate that a more serious problem exists:

  • Changes in appearance, including sudden weight loss or gain
  • Evidence of self-harming behaviors
  • Constantly argues with parents
  • Violence at home, getting into fights, bullying, and run-ins with the law
  • Rapid changes in personality and/or temperament
  • Receiving failing grades at school or skipping school
  • Persistent sadness or anxiety (teen depression symptoms)
  • Has started using drugs and/or alcohol
  • Sudden changes in peer group
  • Refusal to follow rules and adhere to healthy boundaries

If you notice any of these symptoms in your teenager, it is important that you reach out to the family doctor, a therapist, or other mental health professional who will help you to find the most appropriate treatment for your child. The sooner that these problematic behaviors are addressed and corrected, the more likely that the development of more serious problems down the road can be prevented.

What Parents Can Do To Help Their Troubled Teen?

In addition to getting your teenager the professional help that he or she needs, there are number of things you can do as a parent to help your child while he or she is at home. By actively participating in the treatment process, you can help ensure that your child remains successful with the recovery process for the long-term. The following are examples of things that you, as a parent, can do to help your child throughout this difficult time:

  • Find a way to connect with your child and open the lines of communication
  • Be there for your child when he or she is ready to talk and, when he or she speaks, actively listen to what he or she is saying without being judgmental
  • Prepare yourself to be met with rejection and, when this happens, step back and allow your child the time to cool off before trying again
  • Create structure and lay down rules and boundaries with clearly identified consequences that will occur if rules are not followed
  • Make sure that your child eats right and gets enough sleep
  • Make sure to also take care of yourself, setting aside some time each day to relax
  • Seek outside help from friends, family members, or organizations, such as YMCA groups
  • If you find yourself becoming depressed or overwhelmed, get professional mental health treatment for yourself

While things may seem impossible right now, and you may find yourself having doubts that things will get better, it is important to remember that, with professional help and continuous support from you, your teenager can overcome their behavioral problems.

Related Parenting Information

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APA Reference
Hardy, L. (2015, February 9). Helping the Troubled Teenager, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 25 from

Author: Lauren Hardy, MA

Larry Cates
November, 30 2019 at 10:20 am

Your book is interesting. I'm a member of Kairos International which we enter prisons and minister. I'm unable to find your book,Helping the Troubled Teenager. I'm confident it will assist me with my calling.

February, 12 2015 at 5:03 am

I think teens suffers most with their addiction problem. It has been seen commonly among them. It's very important to help them and identify each and every aspect of their problem.

kirsten burnett
February, 9 2015 at 12:11 pm

thankyou so much for some of these tips, i have just started helping out with a youth group and i have had some concerns with how a few of the kids are acting recently. this will help me apporach them and talk things over with them.

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