The teens are usually pretty awful years as the struggling teen battles with hormonal changes which do nothing to help his or her concern about body image, success at school and in the sports field. In addition a whole host of other problems seem to all come at the same time. What can parents do to keep a watchful eye and to help?
What does the struggling teen need most at this time? Most teenagers surveyed say that the fact that their parents are there to help them make responsible choices is the most important thing for them. It is up to parents to know who they are hanging out with and to be on the alert if they start keeping shady company. It is all part of being a parent but sometimes there are difficult choices to make in helping a struggling teen and this is where behavior modification comes into the picture.
Let’s look at one example . How do you deal with a teen who is drinking and has got caught up in the culture that drinking is OK and is part of being an adult. The parent has two choices and the first is to ignore the problem and even though aware of it, never speaks to the teenager about it. Silence is golden but in this case it is taken by the teenager as permission to get drunk, stoned or whatever. The second choice is to make your views very clear on what you think of underage drinking and the problems it can cause. It is all part of letting them know what the bottom line is. If you leave it and think it is a phase, then the problem can only get worse and you will be faced with unpleasant consequences later on.
Teenagers need guidelines, rules and they know what the bottom line is and they are signed up to it. If you follow a behaviour modification or behavior therapy program, you can easily learn how to approach these problems and what exactly to say and how to deal with it without going crazy yourself. There is a very interesting report in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs which says that when teenagers are pulled up by their parents about underage drinking that they are much less likely to become heavy or problem drinkers in adult life.
Here is another example. You are a little concerned about your teen’s use of the Internet and you do not know how you are going to impose the ground rules without taking the computer away which is a totally unnecessary and drastic step. How can you help? There is no need for spying and you can be quite upfront about telling the teenager that you are purchasing software which will block certain sites and also records instant messenger chats and keeps an eye on things your teen is posting on My Space and Facebook. It is easy to explain the reasons and again you can do that calmly and explain the legal implications of watching pornography and so on. A good behaviour modification program will show you how to approach that and how to set it up but above all it will really guide you to help your struggling teen to grow up as a well balanced adult.