At the center of normal behavior changes that a teen might exhibit is the desire to assert her independence. Troubling behavior requires attention and redirection. Typical teen behavior includes experimentation with drugs, expressions of rebellion and changes in appearance. Acts of self-harm, habitual drug use or consistent refusal to comply with reasonable boundaries may signal serious issues, notes the website HelpGuide.org.
It’s essential to establish a connection of trust with your teen daughter in order to give her the help she needs. HelpGuide.org states that establishing a connection with your teen is the first step in trying to find out what is going on in her life. This website also suggests that you set times to sit and talk with your daughter without judging her or offering unsolicited advice. Be there for her if you notice that she’s not her usual self or is becoming more isolated or withdrawn.
Set Rules and Boundaries
Building rapport or strengthening the connection between you and your daughter does not mean the two of you are to become the best of friends. It’s still critical that you establish set rules and boundaries for your daughter to follow and to explain the consequences for failure to follow thee rules, notes TeenRescue.com. Set curfews and establish consequences for inappropriate behavior, such as sexual promiscuity or drug use, so that your teen knows what to expect. Establish consequences and when your teen fails to follow the rules, keep your word. For example, you might ground her for failure to return home before curfew or require her to undergo weekly urine drug screening if she repeatedly uses drugs.
The Root of the Matter
If you find that your daughter continues to have a tough time following the rules, find out why. Use the rapport you have built with her to find out what is really at the heart of her out-of-control behavior. Encourage your daughter to be honest with you -- even if you are her main problem. Your daughter might say that your rules are too strict or that you are inflexible, so be prepared to accept her opinion with no judgment and work through the issues she presents. If your she indicates that something at school or in her social circle is bothering her, listen attentively and ask if there is any way that you can help her manage her problems.
Use Outside Interventions
Sometimes attempts to redirect behavior at home are not enough and outside help becomes necessary. If your daughter is struggling with substance abuse issues, it may be necessary to locate inpatient or outpatient drug programs in your area for additional assistance. Individual and group therapy can help your daughter express thoughts and feelings. Your daughter may be resistant to therapy at first, but she might find solace and comfort around others in a group setting who are experiencing some of the same challenges.