For parents experiencing teen behavior problems, the stakes on knowing the right things to do can suddenly become very high. For parents of difficult teens, that learning curve must accelerate rapidly. Passivity or denial is gambling with your teenís future. Be present in your teenís life and balance it with what is real.
The most trusting parents are the most gullible. Itís a parentís job to be a kidís parent, not their friend. Parents who pride themselves in completely trusting their teen are in a dangerous denial-zone and setting up of an almost irresistible scenario to be taken advantage of by their teen. Being gullible puts your teen at risk.
Don't think your child is too young to be exposed to drugs. The most common drug of choice for teens is alcohol. Nearly 50% of US students 12-17, drink alcohol on a monthly basis. According to the U.S. Surgeon Generalís Call to Action, about 40% of adults who started drinking before age 15 say they have the signs of alcohol dependence. That rate is four times higher than for adults who didn'tít drink until they were age 21. What can parents do? Lock your liquor cabinet and do random inventory checks. Any consumed clear alcohol can easily be replaced with water. Hint: Put it in the freezer. If it freezes, itís water.
Trust with Trust Verified. Trust is earned, not given. A diligent parent is aware of whatís going on in their teenís life. That includes whatís in their pockets, purses, backpacks, wallets and closets. Donít forget to check the inside pockets of clothes seldom worn. You can ask for permission, but in order for it to be effective it should be an on-the-spot check. If your rebellious teen gets mad, maybe itís because they have something to hide. The other place that needs to be checked is their bedroom. Some favorite hiding places are under mattresses, dressers, cabinets, sinks, and attached to the back of the drawers.
Consider Where Teens Get their Drugs. Kids network, much like adults do. They connect with friends who know someone, and so on. Places kids typically frequent like fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, movie theaters or the mall are common meeting grounds. So remain in-tune. Verify your teenís plans. Know who their friends are or if their group of friends change. But your home can be a target too with over-the-counter medicines and prescribed drugs from your own bathroom cabinet.
Open-door Policy. Can your teen count on you to not go ballistic if they tell you things you may not want to hear? Remain calm and watch the tone of your voice. Yelling simply does not work. If you need some time out because theyíve upset you, tell them that. But do not give them the silent treatment. Do things together as a family, as well as one-on-one. Those times can foster good conversations.
Teens need structure and boundaries to navigate the treacherous waters of their teenage years. It is the parentís responsibility to provide clear and consistent ground rules and consequences. Be a proactive parent by monitoring, being aware and creating a home environment that provides both support and safety for your child. Studies confirm that teens rely on adults in their lives more than anyone else to help them make tough decisions, model good choices and to provide good advice.