Witnessing your teenager going through a turbulent time during their formidable years can be a gut-wrenching experience, especially if they’re juggling behavioral or emotional issues. Fret not, because there’s a treasure trove of resources available to help your troubled teen, ranging from professional counsel to support groups, and even unconventional educational programs or captivating hobbies. In this article, we’ll delve deep into each option, leaving no stone unturned in finding the perfect support system for you and your teen. Buckle up!

Troubled Teens: A Riddle Wrapped Within an Enigma

First things first, let’s clear up the misconception that “troubled teen” is synonymous with “a lost cause.” Teenagers might be struggling due to a myriad of reasons such as peer pressure, low self-esteem, mental health hiccups, or even a super-villainous family dynamic. More often than not, these elements band together to create the perfect storm faced by a troubled teen.

Professional Help: Your Troubled Teen’s Knight in Shining Armor

man in black suit jacket sitting on brown wooden armchair
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In pursuit of helping your teen, your first mission should involve seeking assistance from a mental health professional. These quintessential heroes, including therapists, counselors, and psychologists, can offer support, insightful guidance, and crucial coping skills for your young adult to navigate this obstacle course of life. Here’s the triple threat of professional help that you should consider:

Individual Therapy: The Power of One

Individual therapy acts as a one-on-one training ground with a well-equipped professional to tackle your teen’s unique battles. With privacy and confidentiality as its cornerstones, this setting fosters open and honest communication, leading to personal growth.

Family Therapy: It’s (Sometimes) All in the Family

Occasionally, home is where the heartache is. When family dynamics amplify your teen’s struggles, family therapy swoops in to save the day, improving communication, understanding, and setting the stage for a healthier environment.

Group Therapy: The Power of the (Therapeutic) Pack

Huddling together with others experiencing similar adversities can be a game-changer for teens. Group therapy creates an atmosphere of understanding and empathy, vital ingredients for a successful recovery.

Support Beams: Support Groups to the Rescue

Support groups are like emotional snacks, providing reassurance, helpful advice, and a sense of kinship. In-person or virtual, these groups can cater to parents of troubled teens, the teens themselves, or even specialize in themes like mental health, substance abuse, parenting challenges, and more.

Alternative Education: Thinking Outside the (Traditional) Box

For some teens, the traditional school environment is about as cozy as wearing a wool sweater on a hot summer day. Alternative educational programs, such as therapeutic boarding schools or wilderness programs, might be better suited for these individuals. These programs offer pint-sized class sizes, individualized academic support, and a crew of mental health professionals armed with tools to help your child thrive in all aspects of life.

Entertainment with Benefits: Engaging Activities for Personal Growth

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Encouraging your teen to take part in engaging activities can be a make-or-break moment in their healing journey. Behold, a treasure trove of activities that can help your child develop indispensable life skills and unleash their passions towards personal growth:

Volunteering: Do-Goodery On and Off the Clock

Volunteering can nurture empathy, humility, and a sense of accomplishment – all pillars of personal growth.

Sports and Physical Activities: The Brawn Behind the Brain

Physical activity can double as a mental health boost, teamwork builder, and self-esteem constructor! The sky’s the limit with options like basketball, yoga, or even hiking. Remember, the best fit is one tailored to your teen’s interests and abilities.

Art and Creative Outlets: A Brush with Emotion

Creative pursuits like painting, writing, or tickling the ivories of a piano provide an expressive sanctuary for teens to process their emotions.

Clubs & Organizations: Find Your Tribe

Joining clubs and organizations such as debate, robotics, or theater can foster a sense of belonging and open the gates to new friendships and support networks.

To Sum It All Up

Parenting a troubled teen may feel like an emotional roller coaster ride you never wanted to be on. However, reaching out for help through professionals, support groups, alternative educational programs, and engaging activities can drastically enhance the quality of life for both you and your teen. Hang tight, stay patient, and be the best support system you can be as your teenager navigates these stormy waters.

Need More Help or Get More Resources!

Teen Intervene: A Program for Youth with Substance Use Problems

  • What is it? Teen Intervene is a program that helps teens aged 12-19 who have mild to moderate problems with tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs. It uses different techniques to motivate them to reduce or stop their substance use.
  • Who runs it? The program is run by trained interns from California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) who work at participating school sites. It is available for high school students and some middle school students depending on intern availability.
  • What are the benefits? Students who complete the program get an incentive bag with a quit kit, a workbook, a journal, and a drug awareness flipbook to support their positive change.

Teen Intervene:

  • Teen Intervene is a motivational enhancement intervention that aims to help teens reduce or stop their substance use.
  • It consists of three sessions that cover feedback, goal setting, coping skills, and relapse prevention.
  • It can be used with teens who have mild to moderate substance use problems.

About Dr. Winters:

  • Dr. Winters is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and a director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research.
  • He has a Ph.D. in Psychology (Clinical) and has published extensively on the assessment and treatment of addictions.
  • He is a recipient of the Research to Evidence-Based Practice Award and a consultant to many organizations.

More Reading

8 Self-Esteem Builders for Teens: How to Boost Your Teen’s Confidence (verywellfamily.com)

How to boost a teenager’s self esteem?

To boost your teen’s self-esteem, make confidence-building a regular part of your parenting. Consistently challenge them, encourage them to try new things, and most importantly to believe in themselves even when they fail.

Creating Safe Boundaries for Teens to Push Against (parentandteen.com)

Why is it important for teens to set safe boundaries?

With so many things going on in adolescence, having a parent/guardian set safe boundaries in the first place gives an important sense of stability. It helps teens control the rate at which they’re changing. It gives clear, safe borders to push against. Setting effective boundaries will help reduce conflicts with your teens.

Do teens need boundaries?

Teens need boundaries and guidelines. Not that they’d always admit it. (Did you?) Part of your teen’s job is to test boundaries and push for you to expand them.

What is the importance of setting boundaries in parenting?

Setting safe boundaries is part of a balanced parenting style. And we know that this type of parenting style leads to so many positive things for teens — like better grades, less drinking and drug use, and safer driving.

Understanding Out of Control Teenagers