Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Parenting Mistakes to Avoid with a Troubled Teen

Having a troubled teen is one of the most stressful experience for parents. While teens gain more independence and autonomy, parents can feel they are losing a bit of control and missing out on their teen’s lives. This is normal, but can become a problem if your teen frequently gets in trouble. Parents may not feel they are able to trust them to be wise with this new independence. Tread carefully in situations like these, and make sure to avoid the most common mistakes made when trying to help a troubled teen. You don’t want to push them further away or alienate yourself from them completely. If you are in this situation, here are some common mistakes to avoid with your young teens.

Not Setting Expectations

Parents of troubled teens need to be very clear with their expectations for behavior, house rules, and boundaries. Teenagers don’t become troubled without having a propensity for pushing boundaries, which means clear ones must be present. Many parents don’t set strict and clear enough expectations which sets them up for disappointment when their teen inevitably falls short. By clearly stating what you want to see from your child, there is no room for miscommunication or confusion.

Staying in Denial

Many parents find it hard to believe their child could possibly be doing anything wrong. It’s understandable to want to believe the best, but this is a mistake when it lets the problem get out of hand. If you think your teen is doing something wrong, trust your instincts. Listen to them, talk to them, and get to know your teen. If you keep at a distance from their life, how do you expect to know if they are really in trouble?

Acting Judgmental

Many parents choose to take the moralistic high ground when reprimanding their teenager for doing something bad. You may come off as judgmental and teens won’t want to share their feelings with someone they don’t expect will listen. Whether your troubled teen is doing drugs, stealing, or performing any other activity you find unsavory, come at your punishments from the right angle. Let them know you are worried about their safety and their future, not that you think they’re a bad person. If teens feel too harshly judged, this can completely shut off lines of communication between parent and child and usually just makes matters worse.

Ultimately, being there for your teen and trying to lead them away from their bad behaviors are the best way to help them. Be sure you keep lines of communication open so they are comfortable confiding in you. If your child starts bringing dangerous things into your home or becomes violent, finding a treatment center for troubled teens is a great option for giving them a new attitude and outlook on life. It removes them from whatever environment is leading them astray and gives them a new perspective.

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