The teenage years can bring about sudden, surprising changes in your child’s behavior. The girl who was once happy with her appearance may struggle with her weight or develop an eating disorder. Your once happy-go-lucky son may have become angry and rebellious. He may start hanging out with a new, more dangerous crowd or experimenting with drugs. If you sense your teenager is headed down a risky path, reach out to them and provide support before it is too late.
Listen to and empathize with your teenager. Try to find out what is going on in her life. If your teenager tells you something, do not act disappointed in her or pass judgment on her. Remember when you were a teenager and how you wanted your parents to react when you told them about problems you had.
Know what your teenager does and who he hangs out with, but do not snoop. Let your teenager know you are interested in his life by asking him to invite his friends over after school or for dinner. Get to know his friends’ parents by introducing yourself to them at parents’ night or by inviting them over to your house.
Sit down with your teenager, and establish house rules. Make the purpose of each rule clear. For instance, you may limit how often your teenager goes out because you don’t want her to be distracted from her schoolwork. Allow your teenager to provide input about the rules and be willing to compromise on some things. For instance, if you want her in bed by 10 p.m. on school nights, but she wants to stay up until 11 p.m., let her do so, but return her bedtime to 10 p.m. if her grades suffer or she falls asleep in class.
Eliminate the source of your teenager’s trouble. If your teenager has problems with bullies, talk to school officials about coming up with a solution. Take your teenager to see a counselor to work through body image issues or troubles due to past trauma. If your teenager struggles with addiction to drugs or alcohol, look for a suitable rehabilitation program to help him recover.
Remain supportive throughout the teenage years. Never stop letting your child know that you love him and will always be there for him.
- troubled youths image by LadyInBlack from Fotolia.com