Teen Problems: What To Do When Your Teenager Is Out Of Control
When I was in the 10 grade a group of my friends and I decided to skip football practice and hang-out. We managed to sneak away from the school without any of the coaches noticing. At the time, one of the guys was a senior and he happened to have a car. We all piled in and started down the road.
As were driving the senior went into his top pocket and pulled out a joint (marijuana). My friend in the passenger seat yelled out, “Yea, fire it up.”
Before I knew it the joint was lit and each person took a smoke and passed it around. I was sitting behind the driver, making me last. When the joint got to me my friend said, “Tony, your turn man, hit it one time.”
When I reached for the joint my hand started trembling. The only thing I could think about was my momma going upside my head and yelling at me. In addition to that I thought about my friends at church as well as how my Pastor would view me if I smoked marijuana.
To appease my friends I put the joint up to my lips as if I smoked and passed it back around. Then the guy that passed it to me said, “Man, Tony you didn’t’ hit it “then he said, “Man, bump that junk” and proceeded to take it from me and smoke it again.
I felt like the odd man out. All of my friends took a smoke but me. Was I down? Cool? Bout it? Hip? I actually felt like a complete square. They passed it around once more, but this time I just said, “Naw man” and I let it pass.
The surprising take away was their reaction. Only one of them teased me about the situation, the rest of them just kept smoking with another one of them saying, “That’s cool, I’ll smoke Tony’s share” and they all started laughing.
When the senior dropped us off he called me to the side and told me “ keep sticking to your guns and don’t let nobody pressure into doing something you don’t want to do…”
The rest of the fellows went home. Afterwards no one teased or heckled me about my decision not to use marijuana.
Through this story I would like to share four teen problems that plaque this current generation. These problems include: pressure, persistence, passion, and piety.
Teen Problems and Pressure
In my story I was confronted with peer pressure. One of the hardest things for anyone to do is overcome the lure of belonging. With that being said most teens are in one or two positions when it comes to peer pressure. They are either leading or following.
In working with troubled teens I encourage them to take risk and be different. I also add the caveat that being different doesn’t mean doing more of the same bad things. On the contrary, it takes a great deal of boldness to be a decent person seeking to make a difference.
I have learned that helping adolescents find their uniqueness triggers them to move away from negative peer pressure and find a group that better fits their current level of change.
I also remind them that there are no safe positions in life. We all are going to die so you might as well be who you have been called to be and not an imitation of someone else.
Teen Problems and Persistence
One of the most underappreciated principles in the world is that of persistence. Unfortunately, troubled teens learn to be persistent at the wrong thing.
Let me go so far as to say that troubled youth are quitters of their better self. Your son or daughter gave up on the persistence of progress and has chosen the persistence of problems.
During sessions I encourage youth to break-up with the persistence of problems and start dating the persistence of progress. I do this by using cognitive therapy to aid in helping teens think, feel, and refocus their attention on their better selves and what they really desire.
As a parent you must also remain persistent. Don’t allow what appears to be lack of progress discourage you. Stay the course and keep them in therapy. Change takes time.
Teen Problems and Passion
I define passion as “the willingness to live and hustle for what you desire.” One of the superpowers teens have is youthfulness. The youthful passion, when harnessed can transform challenges into triumphs. It can enhance and heighten their hustle.
I believe one of the reasons our sons and daughters get into trouble is because they become passionless about their purpose. One of the areas I try to probe is learning what makes each youth tick. Once I learn what motivates them I provide assignments and cognitive restructuring to aid in realigning with them with their purpose.
Teen Problems and Piety
This is no indictment against you but if you and/or your teen are not involved in church or other religious activities you may be missing out a great opportunity of serve your community.
Moreover, one of the reasons I did not smoke pot back then was because of my concern about my Pastor finding out. I was no goody two shoes but I had a moral compass that led me to make the right decision.
To be more specific, piety really has to do implicit standards that hold people to a different set of values. These standards, when utilized can prevent anyone from going off of the deep end. In other words, having a connection with God offers the ability to have the assistance of a higher power.
This may not seem popular today, but operating in a pious manner or living out high standards provides you with the character they need to maintain success once they make it to the top.
I don’t give a sermon or become “preachy” while in session but I do use faith-based principles and encourage youth to attend or be a part of a progressive youth group that encourages them as well as holds them accountable.
These four principle are helpful to parents, but now let me respond to the question, “What to do when your teenager is out of control?” Because on some level a teenager must be somewhat pliable to implement the aforementioned principles. So then the question becomes…
What to do when your teenager is out of control?
To give a clear response to “What to do when your teenager is out of control” requires a few answers to the following questions. In thinking through these questions you may ascertain the answers. I have also provided an explanation for each question.
How was their preteen behavior?
In Jean Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development which consist of the Sensorimotor Stage Birth to 2 years old, Pre-operational 2 to 7, Concrete Operational 7 to 11, and Formal Operational 11 to adolescents is a key reference to understanding your teen’s issues. The Concrete Operational Stage is where personality has been fully developed. This is a key stage in determining what type of child you are raising. Remembering how your child was during these times could answer why they are the way they are now.
How long have they been doing what they are doing?
Your response to this question could determine if your teen has changed friends or hanging out with a new group. Particularly, if they are a follower.
What preceded the behaviors that you currently see?
Has anything happened that has caused them change e.g. death in the family, divorce, sibling leaving the home etc.
What is there relationship like with the mother? Father?
This is always an important factor in determining how teens interact with world. Youth often mimic certain behavior traits of the parents or seek to be totally different if they are absent from the teens life. Furthermore, 50% of all youth grow up without their father and chances are the mother is bearing the brunt of the missing father. Although there are single-parent fathers raising kids, most often it is the single-parent mother. Both of these factors hinder the relationship with either parent.
Have you taken them to be drug tests? If so what were the results?
If your teen is acting out by using drugs that could be a factor. Sometimes your local sheriff’s office can help with testing.
Are they survivors of sexual/physical/emotional abuse? If so when and where did it take place?
This is always a touchy situation especially when speaking about sexual abuse. If you suspect this has happened I would encourage you to get more information and report the situation if need be.
Out of Control Teens
In conclusion, out of control teens don’t become out of control over night. There is a process that takes. At times it is gradual and the changes are subtle. Then there are the bold declarations where teens assert themselves without a care in the world.
If you are dealing with an out of control teen and need assistance, please give us a call or send us a message. We are here to help.