How to Approach a Troubled Teen
As parents, it’s very difficult for us to see that our children are suffering from peer pressure, especially if it’s already causing them a variety of problems. We don’t know how to talk to them about what’s bothering them, and we don’t even know how to approach them.
For this reason, here are some tips to approach a troubled teen.
Wait; Don’t Pounce
One mistake that many parents commit is that we oftentimes get right to the point and pressure them into talking about their problems. What we don’t understand is that our approach is wrong. Not only do they feel cornered, but, more often than not, it makes them shut down all the more. This is especially true if you set a formal tone to the discussion.
What you can do instead is to wait for the perfect time to talk to your troubled teen. This could be when you’re both watching TV, working on the car, preparing breakfast, or simply when you’re both having a very mundane conversation. You have to make him feel comfortable first, so he can communicate with you better regarding his problem. This way, he won’t feel too pressured into opening up to you.
Choose Your Questions Carefully
Another mistake that many parents make is to ask close-ended questions. This limits their answers, and this does not help create a relaxing and casual atmosphere. Some examples of close-ended questions include “how was school?” and “did you have a good day today?” The answers you’ll probably get are one-word answers such as “good” and “okay.” This definitely won’t create the relaxing mood that you’re after.
Instead, choose your questions carefully, and see to it that you ask them open-ended questions. This will prompt them to share, reducing their chances to answer one-word answers. Some examples of these include “how did you spend your day in school?” or “tell me how your day went.” This will prompt better communication between the two of you, and when he’s relaxed enough that he’s finally opening up to you, then you can slowly but gently ask him about his problems.
Learn how to listen to him.
Finally, the biggest mistake that we, as parents, make is failing to listen to them. We also always have the tendency to lecture. Lecturing them not only raises their hackles up, but this can also very effectively shut any future lines of communication down.
For this reason, you need to be patient. Now that you have him in a relaxed mood and finally starting to open up to you, don’t immediately lecture him. Instead, listen to what he’s saying and what he’s not saying. Oftentimes, you’ll see just how troubled he is by the way he acts, and not in what he says.
Don’t overreact to what you didn’t want to hear. Instead, stay calm and help him come up with the right solutions to his problems. If the peer pressure’s too strong that he’s having a hard time fighting it, then you two can approach the school and ask help from the right authorities. If it’s too late and he’s already involved in illegal activities such as shoplifting, drugs, alcohol, stealing, etc., then you need to get him a good lawyer to get him out of his predicament.