Peer pressure is a very powerful motivator in today’s society. Teens that struggle are often trying to keep up with someone who may not be very positive. In an effort to be accepted teens will do just about anything positive or negative. Teens are not the only ones influenced by what others think. Many adults are still very concerned about what their peers think. This doubles the problems associated with raising a difficult teen. Parents should not be concerned about the way others perceive they are raising their teen. As long as parents are doing what is in the best interest of their child they should forget about their own peer group. The parents’ peer group is often much larger than that of their teen. For example parents have both sides of the family watching what they are doing, as well as those at church, their place of employment, and of course, the neighbors. This is much too large of a group to please, and since others don’t really know the details of the problem parents need to forget about them. Parents will need to put their own insecurities aside in order to help their teen.
The teen usually has a tough group of people they are trying to please also. Many teens consider those in magazines, on television and in videos as their peers, and role models. Trying to follow these “make believe” role models can make a teen’s life miserable. Teens can also be very harsh and critical of each other. When a teen is trying to fit into a social group they consider cool, they will do just about what ever it takes to gain acceptance. There are plenty of adults who will admit they started smoking, drinking alcohol, having sex, and using drugs to be accepted by their peers as a youth. The power of acceptance should not be underestimated. Parents should always consider peer pressure when trying to figure out what is making their teen act the way they are.
Breaking The Cycle
In order to break the cycle of teens doing crazy things to be accepted by others, here are a few things to try. First it is important to help a child realize their own worth, and the uniqueness they possess. This is best accomplished by finding ways to praise the youth for the positive things they do. Positive experiences may need to be created by spending time with the teen doing something they like. Positive praise can go a long way in helping a teen establish his or her own identity. Another way to assist a teen in breaking the cycle of craving negative peer pressure is to engage them in honest sincere communications. If a teen knows that an adult is really interested in them and what they have to say, they will eventually begin to respect the person that is respecting them. A parent may even want to show a teen where they will end up if they continue down the path they are following. This can be done by showing a teen what the results of drug abuse and smoking can do to their appearance. It may not be a good idea to try to find fault with those the teen is currently looking up to as this might create a barrier for the parent. It is better to discuss the negative activity not the person. Of course this is not easy, but who said parenting would be?
A phrase that Dr. Phil has recently made popular asks people that are in a predicament “so how is that working for you”? It can be humorous when asked to those discussing their problems on television. It may be a good question for parents struggling with a defiant teen to consider. The struggle with an out of control teen can be very traumatic and disruptive for the entire family. Most parents are really not sure how to proceed, where to turn, or what to do. The common denominator among parents of troubled teens is a lack of knowledge of what to do next. Most of these parent’s could also be asked the same question Dr. Phil asks. How are the parenting techniques some parents using working for them? Most people have heard the definition of insanity defined by by Albert Einstein as continuing to do the same things over and over expecting different results. If you keep doing the same things you always do you will keep getting the results you have always gotten. It is obvious that something needs to change, the question is what?
Defiant Teen Options
Once parents realize something needs to change they have several avenues they can explore. A common first step is taking the teen to a therapist. This is usually futile as the therapist is trained to help people that want to get helped. The majority of teens in this particular situation think the only problem they have is their parents. As educated and experienced as the therapist might be they will agree they can’t help someone unless they want to be helped. The human mind is a very complex thing, and there is really no way into it without the permission of the person that is in control of it.
Another common tactic for parents is attempting to control the teen with restriction’s like grounding, limitations on friends, or cutting communication lines with the outside world. The problem is the parents may be the ones that suffer the most these types of tactics. Another down side to these methods is that many teens will find a way around them. Sneaking out at night, failing to go to school, and continued association with negative friends will usually continue to take place.
Extreme Action May Be Required
When everything else fails parents may need to consider some “out of the box” techniques or actions. There are troubled teen boarding schools that specialize in dealing with teens like we are talking about. They can be a great option for a teen that does not respond to any other type of help parents have tried. Defiant teen programs are scattered across the country and range in price, success, and how they approach the negative youth. Some are patterned after the military using an in your face technique combined with peer pressure to get the teen to do as they are asked. Another method is to combine a highly structured daily schedule with a therapeutic component. As mentioned previously however, the therapy will only be helpful if the teen decides to take advantage of it. Some of the programs also add a Christian component to their approach. These types of placement are known as Christian Boarding Schools or Christian Boot Camps. The religious aspect of the program can be very beneficial especially if the teen has had a religious upbringing. It can also chase a teen away from God if it is forced on them.