How Can I Help My Troubled Teen?
Being a parent or guardian of a teenager who has begun acting out is a trying experience, full of conflicting emotion. You have likely watched as your son or daughter changed from the child you once knew to a person whose behavior you barely recognize. Of course you may see glimmers of your child’s former self from time to time, but often anger prevents you from connecting in the way that you used to. If this experience sounds familiar, know that you are not alone. We at SUWS of the Carolinas understand the pain that comes along with loving a child whose behaviors have caused you and your family a great deal of hardship. We know that you may be beginning to feel hopeless, frustrated, and at your wits end.
But there is hope.
Our comprehensive wilderness-based programming is designed to help your child learn new ways of coping with stress so that he or she can heal from the underlying issues that prompted the onset of dysfunctional behavior such as defiance and substance abuse. Our staff is here to partner with you and your loved ones to heal the hurt that has developed as a result of your teen’s behavioral and emotional concerns.
What is a troubled teen?
No doubt you’ve heard the term “troubled teen” tossed around many times, but have you ever stopped to wonder what it really means? Often, the term is used to refer to a young person who has begun abusing drugs or alcohol, engaging in petty criminal behavior like shoplifting, skipping class, or dropping out of school. But even a teen who appears to be thriving on the outside can be troubled, and sometimes it can be surprising how much pain young people are burdened by, unbeknownst to those around them.
Concerning behaviors can be the result of a variety of experiences, such as spending time with peers who are involved in illegal activities, or they can also be the result of an untreated substance use disorder or other mental health condition. No matter the root cause, if you witness a marked decline in your teen’s academic performance, social functioning, and overall health and wellbeing, you are right to be concerned.
Can’t they just knock it off?
If you’ve had no success defining boundaries for your teen in typical methods such as grounding, removing privileges, or setting consequences, you are likely desperate to find solutions that will get him or her back on track. Unfortunately, once a teen has begun exhibiting a pattern of dysfunctional behavior, it isn’t easy to change the course. This might be hard to understand for parents, especially if you have other children who don’t seem to struggle with the same concerns. But remember, a teenager’s brain is still developing, and he or she does not have the same executive functioning skills that an adult has. This fact is why teens are often seen as impulsive or highly emotional, but it also means that they often lack the ability to express themselves clearly. All behavior is language, and although it may seem problematic, even the most harmful behaviors are typically misguided efforts to get a deep-seated need met.
If your teen has experienced trauma, abuse, significant loss, or other major disruptions in his or her life, he or she may have a very troubled inner emotional life that is being expressed through his or her problematic behaviors. At our wilderness treatment center for troubled teens, we use the power of nature to help teens dive deep into themselves to uncover underlying beliefs, and to assist them in reshaping their identities in a more positive light. Our programming is designed to encourage teens to take ownership over their behaviors, and to play an active part in their recovery. We model healthy boundaries and respect for others in all that we do, and we seek to collaborate with families so that teens can return home to a healthy, loving environment.
To find support for a teen you care about, please contact the admissions staff at SUWS at your earliest convenience. We’re happy to share more details about our center, and to help you prepare to take those first important steps toward getting your son or daughter the help he or she needs to bring back the hope for a bright future, and a healthy, happy life.