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How To Handle An Out-Of-Control Teen

Is your teenaged child angry, explosive and defiant?

Parents often time find themselves ‘walking on eggshells’ at home, not knowing how to engage their aggressive teen. They fear that they could explode at any point. This creates an environment where parents often find themselves fearful, scared and intimidated.

Parents begin avoiding their teens behaviours, which only strengthens and reinforces the teen’s violence or intimidating behaviours. Parents can easily feel powerless, paralyzed and at a loss.

If you are a parent struggling with these issues, self-compassion and understanding for how difficult parenting really is needs to be the place where you start. Having your own supports system is critical to you surviving this difficult situation.

Steps for handling an out-of-control teenager in a family environment:

  1. Taking control of your home is gaining control of your teen
  • Create clear boundaries in the home
  • Any violence in the home or threats of violence require a response for safety, even if it means calling first responders
  • Give fair notice to your teen (when they’re not angry) that you will be responding with police to ensure safety in the home
  • Be clear that should your teen break the law inside your home, it will not be ignored and they will be held accountable for any forms of violence, threats or damages to the safely space
  • Avoid enabling your teens aggressive behaviours
  1. Avoid being Overreactive and Remain Regulated
  • When your teen becomes irritable or frustrated, be aware of your reactions
  • Don’t break the rules you plan to hold your teen accountable to
  • Remain calm and to ensure that your do not escalate your teen’s emotions
  • Remaining calm allows you to model objectivity
  • Remember, the goal is not to punish your child but to teach them to be responsible and accountable with realistic and appropriate consequences
  1. Exploring what the root cause issues are for your troubled teen
  • Babies are not born out of control, angry, aggressive with violent outbursts
  • Understanding the role of the environments the teen lives their life in is valuable to understand when trying to unpack their anger
  • There is often something below the surface that has affected your teen
    • This might include but not exclusively:
      • Past or present issues
      • divorce
      • sexual abuse
      • domestic violence
      • substance use
      • Trauma of some type is often a factor for many teens
      • abandonment
      • Bullying
  • Accessing help from you family doctor and getting a referral to a counsellor, therapist, or psychologist would be beneficial
  1. How closely connected are you to your teen?
  • Your connection to your child matters significantly.
  • When parental connection breaks down, so does the teen. They experience feeling rejection, unloved and low sense of self worth
  • Working to increase your connection to your child in invaluable for restoring them back to the family system
  1. Which Battles are Worth Engaging?
  • Be mindful that the everything can be a battle if you, as the parent make it a battle
  • Be clear on what issues or concerns you are going to respond to and which one aren’t as important.
  • All high risk behaviours including substance use, risky sexual behaviours and online risk behaviours require an immediate response.
  1. Be crystal clear with your teen on what are “rights’ and “privileges’
  • Often we see many out-of-control, entitled teens that believe parents should give them access to their vehicles, cell phones and money whenever they need it 
  • These are all privileges and not RIGHTS
  • Parents need to explore the role they play in their child/teen coming to understand that these privileges are viewed as RIGHTs in the teens eyes.
  • Set clear boundaries around all privileges and be aware of the role that indulgent parenting plays in produces entitled children who become explosive when they are denied access to these privileges
  1. Reach out to a therapist or community services
  • Connect your child to a therapist they feel comfortable with
  • A third-party support system can provide an objective perspective and support the family in ‘resetting’ their system
  • A clinical therapist will be able to shift destructive behaviours and elevated reactivity to more effective problem-solving and coping strategies.
  • A therapist will also provide help for your teen to identify and treat the deeper issues that are affecting their current state

Wishing everyone peace and wellness,

Ian

November 9th, 2018