“I thought I knew my daughter. I said, ‘She’s really not as bad as those other kids.’ What I didn’t know then was that the difference between my teen and those teens was that mine knew how not to get caught.”
-A Parent talking about her troubled teen
What Is a Troubled Teen? Schools for Troubled Teens? Programs for Troubled Teens? Are They Effective? How Will They Help My Troubled Teen?
One of the obstacles that can cause parents to delay in getting help for their struggling adolescent is their confusion about the answer to this question. What truly defines a troubled teen, and when does a parent really need to seek intervention? Many parents find themselves comparing their child to other children. Parents often vacillate between, “My child is not as bad as their kid!” and “Why can’t my teen act like that so-and-so’s child?”
Although it is tempting to compare your teen to other teens in an attempt to measure the seriousness of the situation, this is not truly indicative of a teen’s need for outside intervention. Parents will do best if they look at their individual situation and decide for themselves if the teenager is on a self-destructive path. This is not to say that parents should not avail themselves of support groups or other sources of information that might guide them in their choices. It simply means that you know if your teen is in trouble. Trust your instincts and take action before the situation deteriorates.
“You know what it feels like when you figure out you’ve been lying to yourself for over a year? When you’ve made excuses for your kid, told yourself they are a ‘normal’ rebellious teacher, then one day you walk into your house and realize you have a stranger living with you? That’s when you start to worry, ‘Am I too late?’.”
-A Parent talking about his troubled teen
Many teens become skilled manipulators, highly secretive, and expert at wriggling out of a situation. If a parent just “doesn’t want to know” on some level, these troubled teens can easily manipulate the situation so the parent can feel as if everything is fine. Parents get into the cycle of denial, always finding a way to explain the behavior away so as to avoid the pain that is inevitable when you take decisive action with a rebellious, defiant child.
Is your teen troubled? Or is your teen just a normal adolescent going through the growing pains of becoming an adult? There are some tell-tale signs of a truly troubled teenager. Parents should be on the look out for these signs and take a closer look should they recognize a number of them in their child. Parents who take an honest look at their child should trust their instincts; if you think your child is in trouble, take action now.
Signs of a troubled teen:
Your teen becomes more secretive, and it seems like more than a desire for greater privacy
Your teen has regular, sudden outbursts of anger that are clearly unreasonable and out of proportion to whatever has caused the anger
Your teen regularly misses curfew, does not show up when expected, and lies about his or her whereabouts (is not where you expected them to be if you check up on them)
Your teenager has suddenly changed his or her peer group and hasn’t made an effort to let you meet these new friends. The new group has led to a distinct change in appearance (clothing, jewelry) and change in attitude (more sullen, defiant, hostile).
Your teen has stolen money from your purse on regular occasions.
Your teen has extreme mood swings, from depression to elation, and seems to sleep a lot more than usual at times.
Your teen’s grades have suddenly dropped and the child has lost interest in the usual activities.
Aspen Education Group has a number of programs for troubled teens and therapeutic boarding schools that can help a troubled teen who has self-defeating behaviors. These intensive programs can quickly narrow down the issues your child is experiencing to help him or her on a positive life path.
Copper Canyon Academy focuses on all aspects of a troubled teen’s. Students and staff work together to help teens discover who they are, confront the past, and look forward to the future by following a very proven trail to success. Talk to a program representative for more information.
Our Assessment Test can help you determine if a residential program might be best for your particular child.
Aspen Education Group (AEG) is an organization that is committed to improving the quality of life for troubled teens and their families.