Communicate with your Teens

Teenage years are times when the body, and all its parts are converging or making rooms for growth. Some teens may even experience physical or emotional pain. Many times they aren’t sure what is going on as puberty takes over during this transitional period. It seems as though their bodies have been invaded by foreign beings. It’s no wonder many are troubled. With all these body changes taking place, how do parents know they have troubled teenagers versus the normal, inherent changes that occur during adolescence? Are changes in the behavior of their teenagers beyond the range of issues all teenagers face? There are ways parents can determine whether their teens are troubled, or merely going through developmental changes in their bodies.

Identifying troubled teenagers

Denise Witmer, self-professed, Professional Parent, has authored two best sellers on the subject of troubled teenagers. She lists a number of warning signs, and states if your teenagers exhibit at least six of them for an extended period of time, he or she maybe considered troubled.

Dropping grades

Extreme mood swings that do not fit the situation

Volatile temper and/or intense sadness

Loss of interest in activities

A sudden change in peers and/or avoids positive friendships

Deliberately trying not to fit in with peers

Becomes secretive

Fails to comply with rules and limits

Feels the need to avoid all consequences for misbehavior and turns to lying

Begins to experiment with alcohol and drugs

It is debatable whether parents need to witness six of these characteristics in their teenagers before seeking assistance, but the list is quite comprehensible and should serve as a guide to identify problems and when to seek solutions.

Helping your troubled teenagers

There are many resources available, ranging from Boot Camps for troubled teens to a plethora of programs to help parents cope. Many of these programs are structured to work with parents, which means teenagers are not necessarily sent to their facilities for treatment.

There are also steps parents may take, one of which is to talk with their teenagers rather than at them. Effective communication continues to be the best tool parents have at their disposal. Listen to what teens are saying even if it’s not what you, the parents, want to hear. Practice active listening by paraphrasing what they are saying from time-to-time, and if possible find areas of  agreement. Keep on trying until you reach them, you have more power over them than you think.

Ms. Witmer suggests establishing routines with your teenagers, “Routines offer parents and teens a sense of security in their daily lives. When you establish a routine of communicating with your teen, it can be as simple as saying good-night at the end of the day, you are strengthening their sense of security.”

Basically, take time to get to know your teenagers. Are they really troubled, or are they going through a transitional period that is unique to all teens? If you find that your teens are troubled, take action as soon as possible and never, ever stop trying to communicate with them. They need you. Many are acting out in an effort to find their way, so be the bridge they need, during this frightening period in their lives, to get them safely to adulthood.