Will Wooton, Director of Pacific Treatment Services, writes for Pomerado News and is the and co-author of “Bring Your Teen Back From The Brink.” PTS is a substance abuse company working with teens and young adults.
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Five tips for parents with teens in crisis
The most difficult job a parent may face is to address and deal with a troubled teen. Nothing can emotionally grind a parent down like a child in distress. From medical issues to behavioral problems, parents often feel very alone and may form envious feelings toward other parents with kids seemingly sailing smoothly through childhood.
“Why is my child doing this (negative) behavior?” “Why is my child so angry at life or even me as a parent?” “How can I make the situation better? I’d do anything to fix it but I just don’t know what to do.” If you have felt this way, here are some basic things a parent can implement to help reconnect your family and begin the process of change.
1— Take care of yourself
This is the simplest and most important thing you can do and also the most overlooked. If you, as a parent, are run down, emotionally drained or in a depressed state, how can you tackle the challenges of another person in need? If you need to take time for yourself, take it. If you need to seek professional help, do it. No excuses. I don’t care if it’s a golf game away, a trip to a spa, time with your friends, or professional help. It needs to happen. You are the driver of the car that is your family. If you go off the road, everyone is in trouble.
2 — Learn what professional help is available
You may not need it but, if you do, knowing where to go is critical. The earlier a therapeutic intervention can happen the better. Often parents wait and see if things are a phase or if their child will grow out of it. Maybe they will … maybe they won’t. Err on the side of caution and get a professional’s view of the situation. The act of seeking help is a huge step and can be just the right intervention.
3 — Education
Learn all you can. Purchase books. (My book, “Bring Your Teen Back From The Brink (Second Edition) is a helpful resource available on Amazon.) Attend parent support groups. Ask questions that relate to your family’s situation. The more you learn, the more you realize how much there is to know. As a general rule, most don’t fully understand mental health disorders and especially substance abuse. Almost every family has one or more family members dealing with these issues yet no one wants to discuss it. Break that cycle and learn all you can.
4 — Make a plan
The number one cause of anxiety is to play the “what if” game. What if my kid does this or that? You will have many sleepless nights if you let that happen. Get a plan. Know what you will do or say as situations come up. If you find drugs in your kid’s room, have a plan (before it happens) on how you will deal with it. The more proactive you are, the better you will feel. Unified parents with a plan can tackle almost anything.
5 — Don’t value your parental ability on how your child is doing
There are a thousand reasons teens act and do what they do. Don’t validate who you are as a person based on how your teen is doing. Each day wake up and do the best you can with the knowledge you have. Every parent can improve but it’s not a contest.
Seek help yourself if needed. Follow some of the ideas listed here and don’t seek your self-worth from your children. Parenting is on-going but the more prepared you are, the easier the challenges will be.