The discovery that your child is suddenly acting out is always hard. Over the past few weeks or months, your child has begun to engage in activities that attract the attention of law enforcement officials. They may have started to use drugs or alcohol, joined a gang, or stolen items. While you know that your child should know better, it is also hard to make them get their behavior under control when they seem determined to continue down this path. As a parent, it is helpful to know that troubled youth treatments such as counseling are effective for helping teens set their behavior straight. Now that your teen needs treatment, you can use these tips to encourage them to accept help and work on their behavior.
Acknowledge Your Child's Emotions
Teens start getting in trouble with the law for a variety of reasons. Some do it for the thrill that it gives them. Others do it because they are angry about things that are happening in their lives. Your teen may also be dealing with underlying mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, and this causes them to break the law by using drugs or alcohol. The bottom line is that your child is likely hurting, and the last thing that you want to do is add to this by yelling at them or dismissing their emotions. Instead, let your child know that it is normal to feel angry, bored, or sad, but follow up by letting them know that it is important to learn how to deal with these emotions acceptable ways.
Establish Firm Boundaries at Home
While you want to demonstrate empathy, you also need to keep your teen and other family members safe. Start by letting your teen know what is not acceptable in your home. For instance, it is well within your rights as a parent to let your teen know that illegal drugs or stolen property are not allowed in your home. You may also need to establish ground rules that keep your teen out of trouble such as making them stick to a curfew.
Make Counseling Feel Like a Choice
For a troubled teen, hearing that they need to go to counseling may make them resistant to their treatment. Talk to your teen about the benefits of going to treatment, and let them know that they always have a choice. Even with court-mandated treatment, your child can choose to go or deal with the penalty for not going. Most teens will choose to comply with counseling. You can also let your child know that they should feel comfortable with their counselor. Ask for their feedback to make sure that they feel good about who they talk to. Then, step back. Your teen needs to know that they can open up to their counselor to achieve the best benefits.
For more information, contact a company like Lifeline.