How can I find help for my out-of-control teenager? Are there safe places to send troubled teens?
Today parents are struggling more and more with teen entitlement that can cause teens to become out-of-control.
Examples of out-of-control teen behavior:
- Underachieving or failing in school, school refusal
- Violent acts (fights at school/home), extreme aggression
- Breaking laws (legal issues)
- Drug/alcohol abuse
- Self-destructive acts
- Running away (constantly)
- Suicide thoughts
- Combative towards siblings or others
- Destroying property
- Stealing money or other items
The home can become a battlefield, while parents feel like they are walking on eggshells and hostage in their own living space. You do not know what can set your teenager into a rage and fear for others (siblings) that also live in the house.
There can be many reasons for this behavior, possible peer influences, internet addiction, mental health issues, or even hormonal changes. Some of the red flags to be aware of are:
- Changes in appearance/appetite/sleep patterns
- Depression/emotional health issues
- New set of friends that lead to negative behavioral patterns in your teen
- Excessive isolation/aloofness/excessive internet use or gaming
- Repeatedly breaking laws
Ways to help your out-of-control teenager
One of the first step is talking to your teen (without judgment) about their behavior. Set down boundaries in the house by implementing rules about schoolwork, household chores, dinner time, bad behavior, spending, etc. Add consequences to each action that does not comply with these rules. Do not become lax thinking your teen will hate you for it. Teens hate their parents in any case. So, if your teenager breaks a rule then let him know there are consequences he must face. For instance, overspending equals earning his next month’s pocket money through extra chores around the house.
If you are still experiencing out-of-control behavior, it is time to consider local therapy. In some cases, teens are more willing to open up to strangers than they will to their parents if something is bothering them. However there are also those that will flat out refuse to attend counseling. There is also the third group that will attend but not participate. In any of these situations, parents should try when the teen becomes unmanageable.
As a parent of an out-of-control teen, you may feel an utter sense of helplessness looming over you. There is always hope.
Residential treatment can be successful for teens that continue to refuse to get help and spiral out-of-control. Before you take the leap into residential therapy, here is a list of local options for you to try:
- Local therapy. Sometimes you need to switch therapists (counselors) a few times to find one your teen can relate to. However, you may get to a point where you realize your child is not going to be receptive (or is being manipulative) and it’s not working. In some cases, the teen is refusing to attend.
- Out-patient therapy. This can be beneficial to some teens since it offers more clinical hours weekly. It also gives them group therapy which can be helpful. The one negative is they are still in their home environment and surrounded by their friends (if they are negative influences) as well as with their devices.
- Short-term hospital stays. In some situations, a short-term adolescent psychiatric hospital can give you an evaluation that helps you with a diagnosis for your teen’s behavior and medication to address it. However, it’s the long-term that can be the struggle. Will they continue the medication at home, and will they continue with therapy?
- Teen coach/mentor. Coaching and mentoring are relatively a new trend being used by families to encourage your teen to make better choices. This would be a person that can help your teen navigate peer pressure, social media, friendships, and other issues that sometimes they have a hard time expressing with a traditional therapist. You should never eliminate parent involvement in your child’s life.
- Live with a relative. As a last resort, some parents allow their struggling teen to move-in with a relative to see if this changes behavior.
For more information on residential treatment for your out-of-control teen, contact us today. Since 2001 we have been educating parents about safe, quality, and affordable teen help resources.