The teenage years can be hard, but what should you do if your violent teen gets out of control? We get a lot of parents struggling to find a solution, like this mother with her teen son:
My 17-year-old son has struggled with school. He started having more problems there the middle of his sophomore year, so we sent him to a psychiatrist. He was prescribed an antidepressant, but then things went downhill fast. We had to hospitalize him for a week for suicidal thinking. After that, things seemed to be going well. His grades were up and he had a job he loved.
But, everything just came crashing down. I found a huge bag of weed in his room and discovered he failed several classes. He blew his savings and lied to us about where he was spending his time. We searched his room and found an illegal handgun, scales, baggies, weed and other drugs.
I am beside myself. What can I do to help him? I took away his electronics and car, but he seems unbothered and says I’m overreacting. How can I help him? I have always supported and respected him, but I am getting no effort on his part. He has never wanted for anything. Should I just keep him home and on lockdown? The risky behavior seems to be almost thrill related. He needs to finish high school, and I need to know the most supportive way to handle this type of behavior. Is stricter parenting and punishment the answer?
The parents that search for answers care deeply about their teens. Just like the mother above, you want to help your child become a successful adult. You feel like you are pushing and pulling, but you are only met with resistance. Your goal is to help your teen avoid detrimental life choices, but your child seems hell-bent on throwing it all away.
You are at the end of your rope and you don’t even know what comes after that.
More than likely, this isn’t due to anything you’ve done as a parent. You’ve put in the effort and love that come with a normal child-parent relationship. But children are all different and life is unpredictable. It’s possible that something happened in their past that has caused a reaction to trauma. And, it’s possible they are dealing with unbalanced brain chemistry or physical condition that is impacting the decision making. But, it’s also possible that they are just caught in a snowball-effect of bad choice after bad choice.
Should I Be a Stricter Parent?
The reality is, if you have been consistent, then strict isn’t going to solve anything. If you’ve caved and let them have their way whenever they start to cause an issue or balk at a rule, then it would be time to get very serious about setting boundaries and maintaining rules. But, if you have already been holding down your expectations, tightening the reins will only poke the bear.
At this point, you’ve set up rules and they’ve been disregarded.
By making life a living hell, you may just make them look for ways to push their frustration on you. Or, they might just decide to leave altogether. You want to get them help, not push them away.
Will Lock Down Work for My Teen?
A lock-down can work in some settings, but it can be very difficult for a parent to enact. If you are already struggling with your teenager, a lockdown is just going to draw the line in the sand. You have to ask yourself: what will I do if they disregard my rules?
On one had, you could pretend not to notice and let your teen get away with skirting your tightened rules. On the other hand, you could successfully keep your teen from things they love and they could grow increasingly angry and either act out or disregard your rules. Then what?
In most cases, a lock down approach should come from professionals who are well trained and equipped to work through those most difficult early stages of teen rebellion.
My Violent Teen is Scaring Me
The mother who wrote this found a gun in her child’s stash. That is not something that should be overlooked.
Her child is now a dangerous man—nearly an adult. That gun could do a lot of damage very quickly—changing his life forever. As a parent, it is crucial that you recognize dangerous behavior.
If your teen is scaring you, then things have gone past a difficult phase and moved into troubled behavior. Now is the time to act. The longer you wait to take extreme action, the longer your teen has to make those decisions that can never be taken back—the higher the risk
A violent teen isn’t just a danger to themselves—they can cause irreparable harm to their friends, families and community. This might seem obvious, but sometimes the potential impact of their actions isn’t fully realized for parents. Notice how the mom above listed the gun in with every other issue, like drugs, money and scales. Parents tend to feel like they might be overreacting and are embarrassed to take more dramatic measures.
What is the Next Step with My Dangerous Teen?
The best thing you can do for your teenager when you are facing potential violence, is get them help.
Violent teens can cause serious injury or harm, and this is not normal acting out behavior. A professional facility or school will get them out of their current situation and help them at the deepest levels. Whether your child needs medication, a shift in perspective or just a restart, you can help them by moving them into a program for troubled teens.
Don’t wait until the decision is taken out of your hands. Without action now, you may be looking at a mandated stay from a judge when things do get out of hand. Here’s where you can start to help your violent teen get proper treatment.