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Activities for Troubled Teens

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All teens can have their moments, when they do not listen and they argue with everything said, but some teens can become more challenging than others, reports When your teen begins to engage in troubling and unwanted behaviors, it may be time for you to take action: Get her involved in positive, confidence-building activities.

About this Author

Alia Butler holds a Masters of Social Work from Washington University, St. Louis, concentrating in mental health, and a Master of Arts in Social-Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Currently, Butler is a freelance writer, penning articles focusing on mental health, healthy living and issues surrounding work-life balance. She is the principle/owner of ALIA Living, LLC providing residential interior design services, professional organizing and life coaching.

General routine exercise can be great for teens who demonstrate unwanted behaviors. According to, routine exercise will elevate a teen’s endorphin levels in the brain, thus inducing a more positive mood. Also, exercise will allow your teen to gain confidence in herself and feel good about what she has accomplished.


Sports, can be a great way for troubled teens to become involved and refocus her negative energies. The sport, whether individual or team, will help to keep your teen safe and busy, reports the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Helping your teen participate in sports can help her gain self-esteem and confidence, which may redirect some of her unwanted behaviors. Also, involvement with a team sport, such as volleyball or soccer, will help your teen gain a close group of positive friends.


Create household chores that your teen needs to accomplish. According to, chores need to be ones that will not be accomplished unless they are completed by your teen. The benefit of the chore comes from the individual success and sense of pride from completing the task. Therefore, the chores must be relatively easy to begin with and can get more difficult as your teen achieves success, reports the

Ropes Course

Another skill-building and confidence-building exercise is a ropes course. In these courses, your teen will be pushed, by trained instructors, to participate in physically challenging activities that force him to trust others in order to complete. Ropes courses can help your troubled teen extend his comfort zone while gaining confidence in himself and trust in others.

Giving Back

Troubled teens can benefit from helping others and giving back to those in need. Teens who demonstrate behavior problems will benefit from the responsibility and respect it takes to help others, reports SAMHSA. Allowing your teen to positively impact the lives of others can help him grow and learn life lessons he might never have a chance to learn otherwise. If you would like to find your troubled teen a volunteer opportunity, Volunteers of America and Volunteer Match are good resources, reports SAMHSA.

Aggression Replacement Training

According to The United States Center for Aggression Replacement Training (USCART), this 10-week intervention program focuses on trouble teens who display aggressive and impulsive behaviors. In the aggression replacement training, teens learn how to respect the rights of others and use the anger management skills they learned. Research has shown that ART programs improve anger management and social skills, while also reducing the incidence of teens who have been arrested returning to jail, reports USCART.

If you would like to know more about therapeutic boarding school and other residential programs for troubled teens, please contact a family counselor at Zion Educational Systems for guidance.  To get started click the button below!

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