The teenage years are notoriously difficult to navigate, which can create a nightmare for parents whose teens seem to be out of control. Whether your teen is lying, stealing, doing drugs, or acting defiant and belligerent, help is available. The most important step in regaining control over your teenager is to refrain from making excuses for his behavior and be honest with yourself regarding your teen's actions. It's easier to overlook a few lies or turn the other way when you know your teen is engaging in risky behavior than it is to confront your teen and meet challenges head on. Yet without your strict guidance and intervention, these behaviors will only get worse and may pose a real danger to your child.
Make an appointment with a mental health professional to rule out disorders such as ADHD, depression or anxiety. These disorders and others like them can prevent your teen from reaching her full potential, as well as leave your teen feeling frustrated, stressed out and unable to live a happy, productive life. Medication to control these disorders can make an enormous difference in your teen's attitude and general well-being, and may put an end to any related behavioral problems.
Find out everything you can about your teenager. Teens are experts at hiding what they don't want you to know about, and many times parents are experts at turning the other way and ignoring unacceptable behaviors in hopes that they will get better on their own. Although checking up on your teen may feel like spying, and snooping through her purse or his backpack may feel like an invasion of their privacy, it is your difficult job as a parent to know what your teen is up to so that you can protect your child. Talk to your child's teachers, friends and siblings to get another perspective on your teen. Have regular discussions with your teen about his life. Listen carefully, without interruption, to what she says, and try to understand what your teenager is feeling. Remember that teenagers feel things much more intensely than adults. Don't discount strong feelings simply because they don't make sense to you.
Be consistent with rules and consequences. If your teen's doctor has ruled out any behavioral or mental disorders, look at your parenting style. Set clear boundaries, and let your teen know what the consequences will be if the boundaries are breached. Follow through with the consequences regardless of your teen's reaction. If you give in once, you will lose control.
Find a support group for parents of troubled teens. Listening to other parents' struggles and solutions will make you feel less alone and will give you strength to face challenging situations at home. Groups such as this often have a long list of resources available to help troubled teens and their parents. A support system for your teen may help him work through some of the struggles of adolescence. Encourage your teen to talk to you or another trusted adult when he feels overwhelmed. Enlist the help of your teen's teacher, coach, favorite family member or family friend; let them know your teen is struggling and encourage them to support your teenager in whatever way they can.