Somewhere in the world right now, a troubled teenager may be facing all sorts of new and undiscovered things in life right this moment. Another may be just now facing the decision of whether to drink alcohol and how much. Another troubled teenager is wondering if he or she should have sex with someone they may not know very well.
Some defiant teenagers will purposefully go against their parents express wishes and start down a road that could lead to a lifetime of trouble with submitting to authority. Whatever decisions or challenges teenagers are facing these days, the one thing almost all teens do is turn to other people for advice, help, support, and encouragement.
The emotional needs of the troubled teenager are simple
We all need other people around us at different times in our lives. Sometimes we need the support of a loving and forgiving shoulder to cry on. Other times it’s necessary to learn from one who knows more than we do. Still other times we need to submit ourselves to a higher authority. When we do these things, our emotional needs are met in different ways.
The troubled teenager is no different and is probably in more need of these strong emotional support connections than even they realize. Think of the things you need when your emotionally weak or vulnerable. A troubled teenager also needs these things. Acceptance, forgiveness, encouragement, and unconditional love are all parts of a teen’s emotional needs.
Approach defiant teenagers with extra sensitivity
A troubled teenager is one thing, but a defiant teenager is quite another. When you have the challenge of a troubled and defiant teen, you have to really be on your game as a parent. It is critical to approach defiant teenagers in a non-aggressive manner. Timing is everything at this critical juncture. Make sure you are not approaching your child when they feel sensitive or vulnerable. Best to wait for just the right opportunity.
Prepare what you’re going to say and decide what result you need to get beforehand. When you decide the time is right, steel yourself and move ahead. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, sit down together and talk it out. As a parent, you need to understand that teenagers are already feeling extra vulnerable so getting angry or upset will only cause them to shut you down. Remember your prime objective is to keep communication open.
Troubled teenagers need to know you’re not the enemy
Don’t go in with a domineering, know-it-all attitude. Do not talk at first. Listen to everything your teen has to say. Listen long, listen attentively, and then listen some more. You’ll be surprised what they will tell you once they know it’s safe to talk openly. I think most parents will be surprised that teens will tell you just about everything that needs to be known if they will just let their kids talk.
Once you have established that you are sincerely interested in what your troubled teenager has to say, try and maintain that flow. Don’t say things that are judgmental or critical of their behavior or actions, there will be time for that later. Don’t even try and be helpful. Just let them get it all out first. It’s all a matter of timing, knowing what to say, and when to say it, when to shut up, and when to give advice. Do these things and your troubled teenager will know they have a place where they can be honest and share anything. Your choice as a parent is to decide you’re ready to do what it takes to be there for them, or not.