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Moving a Teen From His Environment to Change Behavior

by Anna Green

Although a stable living environment is important for teens' well-being, when adolescents display troubling behaviors, a change in environment might be helpful. Before moving a teen, however, talk with a counselor or therapist to ensure that a change is the healthiest way to help the teen modify her behavior. Major changes might lead to distress or trauma.

Abuse and Neglect

Child abuse and neglect can be a major cause of negative behavior in teens. In particular, sexual abuse can lead to behaviors such as promiscuity and drug use. If a teenager is being abused or neglected, removing her from the home environment can be a good first step toward helping her heal and to modifying her negative behaviors. Likewise, children who suffer from physical abuse might act aggressively or have difficulty maintaining appropriate behaviors in school. Changing her environment might curb those behaviors, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

In-patient Facilities

For children with serious mental illnesses, residential treatment facilities can provide the intensive help and structure that parents or guardians might not be equipped to provide, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Additionally, the structure and safety precautions in these facilities can help children with behaviors such as cutting, kicking or hitting. In such a setting, teens can develop healthier coping skills while being removed from stressors caused by family, school or social pressures.

Changes in Custody

When parents divorce or separate, moving a teen from one parent’s home to the other parent's home might have a positive effect on his behavior. For example, a teen boy might rebel against his mother’s directives, but be more responsive to discipline under his father’s care. Likewise, if a child is not responding well to a parent's care, moving him to the home or a trusted relative, such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle might use different disciplinary strategies to which the teen might be more responsive.

Voluntary Moves

Growing up in neighborhoods where violence, drug activity or other acts of criminality are common can affect the behavior and mental health of teens. In particular, when parents are busy working and the adolescent does not have a positive adult role model who is present, he might be vulnerable to negative peer pressure. Although it is not always possible for families to change neighborhoods to escape the unhealthful environment, in cases where it is financially and logistically feasible, it might be a good step to helping teens avoid negative peer and social influences.

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

Photo Credits

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