6 Steps to Saving a “Troubled Teen”

Tyler is a 17-year-old from Denver, CO. She enjoys reading and traveling, one day she would like to pursue a career in Business Management.

I am not the picture perfect, flawless teenager that has never broken a rule and is floating through life happily. Most of us are not the ideal teenagers that only exist in movies, and even then it is still a rarity. All teenagers will miss a curfew, will have one class that their grade is slipping in, or will experience an identity crisis. However, there is still a fine line between the typical teen that makes a mistake, and the teen that is going down a dangerous slippery slope. The fundamental question is how we know which side of the line we stand on. For teenagers and parents alike, this line is tough to make out. Which is why in most cases, when one finally realizes another one is in trouble, it is too late.

Drugs, alcohol, violence, dropping out, pregnancy, homelessness, these are only a few of the connotations that come along with the phrase “troubled teen.” Stereotypes will tell us that drugs and alcohol are an outcome of wanting to fit in, a person who dropped out of school was unmotivated, and a person who was homeless did not get along with their parents. Unfortunately, many of these scenarios are right.

The high school I go to has adversity echoing through the school hallways. 20% of the student body has more than two F’s, drugs and alcohol are relatively frequent, and homelessness and pregnancy are not fairly uncommon. I have never have had any direct encounters with these. Unfortunately, I have had to watch my classmates make the same mistakes over and over again. I would watch the kid who sits next to me in English come to class less and less, before he stopped showing up all together. I now see him frequently loitering the streets. I have had friends who once had ambitious, bubbly personalities, only to accept one joint and watch their whole future go up in a puff of smoke. It’s amazing how fast one can start going down a dangerous winding road, and in a blink of an eye everything is different. Why didn’t anyone stop them or warn them? Troubled teens usually have different outcomes and go down different roads, but all come from a relatively similar origin. Prevention is the key.

1.      Parents and teenagers need to have a close relationship. This is the most important thing for a teen’s health. When a teenager is really close to his or her parents, they are less likely to rebel against them.

2.      Do not hesitate to approach a loved one if you notice they are in trouble. Ask them every once in a while if everything is okay. Make sure a teen is not acting out because of a bigger, underlying problem if they begin to have mood swings.

3.      Dropping grades, a violent temper, lost interests, major emotional mood swings, skipping classes, a new group of friends are all warning signs of a teenager who might be in trouble.

4.      If you notice that something is seriously wrong, something that is becoming an everyday issue, the best thing to do is to say something. Do not automatically assume that the person is just being a teenager, if it becomes something that is becoming a problem on a regular basis that could mean more trouble ahead.

5.      Encourage teens to get involved, take advanced classes, and to surround themselves with outgoing, positive people. These people usually do not get into trouble, because they do not have ways to get into trouble and do not associate themselves with people who do.

6.      Once the problem is addressed, get help. Either seek it from a professional, or set rules for your teen that work for you and him or her. In the future, do not let your relationship get out of hand so that you will always know what your teenager is up to.

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2 Responses to “6 Steps to Saving a “Troubled Teen””

  1. Vote4SafePregnancy
    June 11, 2010 at 3:16 am #

    I have a friend whose mother died in a car accident and after 2 weeks she went on alcohool….we tried to reach to her but we thought that she needed time …after a while her dad really dedicated himself to get her on the right path…even though she is ok now you can still see that she doesn’t feel the same …I don’t know about any other cases but I think these are good advices..maybe I will try some ..:)


  1. 2-5-2010 Articles for Parents This Week | Radical Parenting - February 5, 2010

    […] 6 Steps to Saving a “Troubled Teen” There can be a fine line between typical teen and troubled teen. Figure out if your teen has crossed that line and how to bring them back. […]

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