Struggling Teens - How to Help Your Struggling Teen

Struggling Teens ...

... need their parents perhaps more than at any other time in their lives. Yes, teens are more independent than babies, yes, they are starting to look very much like adults but that doesn't mean they have developed the capacity to make mature decisions. When teens are going through the challenges of adolescence, they need their parents to be there to guide them. In this article, we'll explore three ways to help a teen who is having problems. (Near the bottom of the page, there is a section where you can share your stories of how you have helped your teen overcome difficulties or depression and get back on track. Click on the link to submit your stories about struggling teens or click here to read posts submitted by parents of teens.)

Helping Struggling Teens

  • If you do not have a close relationship with your teen (and yes, a close relationship is possible—I have great relationships with my teenage boys), work to cultivate one. Show interest in your child's life and do not take things personally if your child rejects your initial gestures toward closeness. Sometimes, the best way to get your teen to open up about problems is to do something together, so that the conversation naturally starts to flow. For instance, working on the car together, weeding the garden or sorting through your teen's room to get rid of the things he or she has outgrown is a good way to get your teen to open up.

  • Once your teen starts to talk about the issues he or she is struggling with, refrain from assuming the role of the all-knowing parent. Tease out the issues and guide your teen to find his or her own answers. Acknowledge your teens efforts to come to a resolution with small gestures of approval. Remember, your teen does not want to be treated like a child whose every effort is applauded.

    Take struggling teens out in nature. The experience helps them turn inward and reflect upon their experiences to problem-solve or find a new direction. Nature grounds us in our sense of self and helps us to remember the value of being over our constant, chronic obsession with doing.

  • Take your teen out in nature. Go on a camping trip or go backpacking or fishing together. If you can't get away, then just sit out under the night sky and watch the stars come out. Talk about life. Tell stories about your teenage years and issues you've struggled with to help your teen gain insight or perspective on his situation. When he feels relaxed and open (and being in nature will naturally create this), he will have a tendency to open up and tell you things he might not have otherwise. Listen to what he has to say. Ask him what he thinks he should do. Offer your own ideas and ask him what he thinks of them. I regularly have conversations like this with my sons.

  • If your teen is in imminent danger of hurting himself or others, use least force techniques to calmly assert your authority. After all, you are the parent. For instance if your teen has come home from parties drunk and has been driving the family car, tell him that you are revoking his driving privileges for his safety and for the emotional and financial well-being of the family.

If all else fails and you feel like your teen is slipping away from you or is sinking into depression, get a therapist, minister or other professional to help. Rather than seeing this as an admission of your failure as a parent, understand that are drawing upon all your resources in order to help your struggling teen. With time and perspective, your teen will come to know that you did everything in your power to help him and you will not have any regrets.

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About the author: Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning parenting book, Keepers of the Children. The book uses unique ideas from the native culture and developmental psychology to help parents raise kids to develop their strengths so their lives can become an expression of integrity and strength. The book is a journey of self-discovery for child and parent.

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Struggling Teens Stories Submitted by Others

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