While the teen years have a reputation for being challenging, if a teenager's behavior takes a drastic change for the worse, there may be specific reasons, advises Mark Gregston, founder of Heartlight Ministries, a teen counseling center. Out of control behavior often has roots that you can find and work to resolve.
Most teenagers exhibit unpleasant behaviors at some point during the process of growing up, but it’s important to analyze the behaviors to determine whether a teen is behaving within normal parameters or whether the teen has crossed over a line. Moodiness, irritability, withdrawal from standard family time, restlessness and impatience are examples of normal behaviors, according to social worker James Lehman, with the Empowering Parents website. Physical or verbal abuse, stealing, drug and alcohol use, or trouble with the law are examples of out of control teen behavior.
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Extreme behavior exhibited by a teenager often involves substance abuse, states Gregston. When you notice strong behavioral changes that include aggression, anger, a drop in grades and a belligerent attitude that communicates apathy, make arrangements to have your teenager assessed by a professional counselor or therapist. Ask a school guidance counselor or your child’s physician for a referral.
It’s common for a teenager to threaten to be uncooperative with an appointment with a therapist or counselor. With an uncooperative teenager, it’s important to move forward with an appointment regardless of the teenager’s attitude, advise therapist Jerome A. Price and psychologist Judith Margerum, with the Michigan Family Institute. Inform the teenager that you have made an appointment for you and him to meet with a therapist together and that you expect him to be there. If the teenager balks about attending, tell the teenager that you will meet with the therapist without him, and you intend to make decisions about his future at the meeting.
Once evaluated by a therapist, you should receive a recommendation for treatment for your teenager. You may receive a recommendation for inpatient treatment at a residential center designed for teenagers. You may receive a recommendation for outpatient treatment that involves both family and individual therapy for the teenager. Through treatment, the teenager will receive guidance and assistance in working through issues and possible substance abuse problems. You will also receive support and guidance for parenting your teenager in an effective and positive manner.
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