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Teen Issues Topics..

You are here : home > Teen Issues > Teen Problems > Problem Teens

Problem Teens

Is your teen giving you problems? At times such problems escalate seemingly to the point of no return. Here's help.

Managing teenagers is a full-time job for some parents as they turn themselves into 24-hour police to monitor the consequences doled out for misdeeds. You constantly keep trying to figure out what your teen is up to, while your teenager keeps trying to hide his life from you. So, a game of cat and mouse develops and as the game continues, your child starts getting bolder and bolder, while the parent starts applying more restrictions to their child's life, and coming up with harsher punishments. The net result is that resentment builds and while some teens even go to the extent of running away from home, most teens turn defiant, rebellious, start lying to their parents, and turn to alcohol, drugs and smoking as a means of escape. Long gone is the kind and loving relationship of earlier years.

When the relationship is spiraling out of control and parents find themselves at their wits end, the challenge is to try and placate your child, and see if you can build your relationship from scratch. Harsher, more restrictive consequences will not bring your teen "under control". Slowly and deliberately trying to 'woo' your teen can rekindle the relationship you feel you have almost lost.

Step by step

As a parent, you should make the first step in going out of your way to find moments when they can approach your teen by showing an interest in their activities or to provide a positive comment. For instance, if your teen is seated at the computer, approach, place a hand gently on his shoulder and ask what he is doing. Then nod, as if interested, make a neutral comment such as "oh", or "aha" - and then walk away. Thus, slowly start rebuilding your relationship. When you are already at a stage of sour relationship with your child, trying to push yourself on your child too hard will only worsen the situation. You too need to 'play it cool' initially, and earn your child's trust. Take slow steps to start rekindling rapport with your teen. On other occasions, perhaps when chauffeuring your teen here and there, make a stop such as at a dosa or burger joint, and offer to grab a couple of burgers or idlis. This will help the two of you to have some fun together, and is a step in a right direction. Use time with your teen constructively, to gain an insight into her life, and not to lecture her with what she is doing wrong.


Most parents lose sight of the fact that they need to guide their children and not control them. Try and restrict your controlling impulses and guide your child by getting his feedback, and by trying to meet your child's demands halfway when giving permission for certain activities.


Throughout, step away from escalating any arguments. Alternately, when your teen acts inappropriately, quietly and directly express your disapproval and then walk away. You want to leave the teen thinking about their behaviour, not yours. While you cannot control your teen's behaviour, you can control your own.


If there are serious concerns related to school attendance, drugs or alcohol, try to discuss your concerns and if this isn't possible, make an appointment with the school counselor to address these or other issues. Demonstrate to your teen that you will use appropriate strategies with their well-being in mind as opposed to them feeling you are just trying to exert your will or control over them through "discipline". Don't push them too hard and then try to make them understand that it is all for their own good. Make sure that your actions show you are trying to act for their own good.

If your child is violent, tell them that rather than engaging in counter-violence, you will call the police, and do so if need be! Your child should know that certain kinds of behaviour will not be accepted.

It is not that your teen should avoid the consequences of their behaviour, but that you should engage them in ways that can promote the relationship and your influence. This is how you can reduce any conflicts you have with your teen, build rapport, continue to hold them accountable and help them develop appropriate life skills.

It starts with you as a parent, taking responsibility as the grown-up to foster the relationship. While you may not believe it will work, you know the other way didn't. Take the leap of faith and try.

To see other article by Gary Direnfeld or contact him: click here

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Lessons for Your Teen
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Fixie.5 years ago
a well written and comprehensive guide for problematic teens. Indeed very informative. Thanks for updating this post.
Doone.9 years ago
i'm a single mother. my ex-husband refuses to take any responsibility in my son's upbringing. he's a fantasy dad. every time my son comes home from his dad's house, i have to re-program him. my son also acts up before he goes to his dad's house because he knows that i can't enforce discipline on the weekend when he's with his dad. it is very difficult to raise my son when i have his dad undermining my every move. there is just no consistantcy in his life. i'm at a total loss as how to raise my son with his dad in the equation, messing it all up.
Suggested Solution.9 years ago
as a parenting councellor i have to give you the following suggestion .

you have to sit down and camly talk to your ex-husband about the issue . meet at yours or his house as such linien should not be washed in public . even if your ex-husband dosen't keep his cool you should .

you should begin with a discussion of 'our son' after all respect the fact that he is the boys father . i often get mums who tell mr 'i gave birth to him , he was in my stomach for nine months erc ' let me emphasise that it is all crap. the boy has a father and both you and he should respect that . removing or completely cutting ties with his dad is thus not the solution !

alk to your son on the day he gets back on one of the stay over occasions and see what he and his dad do together . ask what he enjoyed and what they talked about . remember you are not being a gossip or an evesdrop . you are merely enquiring about it .

tell your ex-husband in a tactful and concise way of whats going wrong . shell some problems that you face parenting and tell him to talk to your son on these issues .

don't give up believe that every problem has a solution and i wish you all the best .
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