troubled youth programsHow to Communicate with a Troubled Teen: Troubled Youth Programs Discussion

All troubled youth programs know that dealing with a troubled teen can often feel like a never-ending battle. Communication can be virtually non-existent or reduced to elevated arguments. Not all troubled teens are destined for an intervention from the authorities or psychiatrists. Delinquency varies from minor rule braking, being withdrawn to violent aggressive behavior, and law breaking. Learning how and when to communicate effectively can make all the difference.

When emotions are high, rationality is limited or not present at all. When an angry parent approaches the upset teen, the teen will automatically be defensive or closed off. Neither party will accept the other’s explanation of reasoning. 

Instead of fighting fire with fire, allow a cool off period. Some matters do not have to be addressed immediately, and it will not deduce the importance of the matter when brought up later. At this junction, it will go against the parent’s natural judgment to forestall the conversation; however, it will be extremely unproductive and can make matters worse. 

Nonetheless, when the offense is committed, tell the teen that the conversation will take place, just not at that time. 

Instead, address the issue when the emotional state both parties are level. This approach will ensure the parent and teen to be receptive. Teens might be prone to a certain extent of openness; however, the parent’s words will sink through, even if the teen does not verbally express the understanding. 

Troubled Youth Programs Recommend taking a Positive Conversational Approach

Utilizing a positive approach is a highly effective technique as well. When beginning a conversation with accusations and pointing out only the negative, the teen will tune out the parent. No one likes to be demoralized, even when he or she is wrong. Start the conversation with explaining that the parent will not get upset at what the teen has to say, they only want to hear what they were thinking at the time of transgression. This encourages the teen to believe that he or she is heard. What they have to say is the truth, as they know it. Keep in mind teens have not yet experienced many situations and have not learned many truths as adults have. To this end, it makes parents protective of their children’s hearts and emotions. However, certain things teenagers will have to come to terms with, as well as realizations they must have for themselves at some point or another. When a parent feels as though they have failed at protecting, and a teen is disobedient, it automatically upsets the parent. As hard as it may be, hold back the bark, and empathize with the teen. 

Share some level of understanding for their untrained mind and immature ways of thinking. Place oneself in that age as the teen. Share a story of the past and relay the lesson learned. Explain the reason of protectiveness. Explain the level of consequences, not as a mere punishment but as a learning lesson. Be sure to talk with the teen and not at the teen. The key is receptiveness; otherwise, there is no point in having the conversation. 

Enter discussion forums with other parents struggling with teen communication, or take a look at some of the resources provided to teens and parents in some of the leading troubled youth programs. 

Communicating with a teen has to be constructive, consistent, and careful. It is like walking on ice, once one falls through it takes a while for the ice to reform.