Some Danger Signs of Troubled Teens

troubled_kidWritten by Wood Creek Academy

Nobody said parenting would be easy. While the information and advice available to parents are increasingly abundant, the challenge of successfully raising a teenage boy remains as tough as ever. The rough patches parents inevitably experience with their teens can be exasperating at best and devastating at worst; in extreme cases, however, parents might look for outside help.

Outside help for teens takes many forms. One-on-one experiences—such consulting a therapist, doctor, or private counselor—can be very useful for improving your relationship with your teen. Boot camps, Outward Bound-esque trips, and programs for troubled youth other options for parents seeking help for their children. In particular, boarding school programs for troubled boys are designed to help teens experiencing problems their parents no longer feel equipped to solve on their own. Before deciding to take a course of action appropriate for your teen, it is critical that you evaluate your boy’s behavior to determine whether a strong course of action is the best one. What follows are some suggestions—not comprehensive or prescriptive guidelines—that will hopefully aid you.

The Influence of Appearances

It’s not surprising that fashion and friends hugely influence your teen; still, accurately gauging what’s acceptable can prove challenging. Dyed hair, piercings, or provocative clothing may seem extraordinary, but the absence of anti-social or negative behavior may relegate these changes to the fleeting or unusual fashions of youth. Today’s trends influence the way your teen presents himself, but parents should pay attention to warning signs that may indicate larger problems. Rapidly fluctuating weight or indications of self-harm (such as cutting), might indicate emotional issues. Problems at school—poor grades or attendance, a sudden shift to a new peer group that encourages poor behavior, and failure to comply with reasonable authority—may also suggest larger issues worth seeking help.

Whenever possible, avoid criticizing the way your boy dresses—teen self-esteem is incredibly fragile, and a parent’s dissatisfaction, whether inferred or stated, can tip the scales of a troubled teen. Teens also deserve a reasonable amount of privacy, a secluded space and time when they can feel safe and undisturbed.

How Much Rebellion Is Too Much?

Rebellion against authority is common among teens—they’ve grown up underneath the parental thumb, after all, and are anxious to explore the incremental freedoms that come with getting older. As this happens, it’s not uncommon for conflicts between teens and parents to arise. Extreme instances of anger can manifest as violence at home, skipping school, falling grades, habitual use of drugs or alcohol, and altercations with law enforcement; such behaviors are worthy of parental attention, as they potentially indicate problems greater than simple boredom at school. If your teen’s personality is rapidly changing, or if you notice persistent depression and anxiety, your teen might be experiencing an emotional health problem and could benefit from attending one of the leading behavior modification schools.

Pay attention to what triggers your teen’s anger—it could be a specific class at school, even—and try to find ways to alleviate or minimize these problems. Remain calm when discussing problems with your teen, and take care to control your anger as well. Teens need reasonable rules and consequences, which parents should take great care to enforce. Often, teens just need someone to vent to without hearing advice in return.


Wood Creek Academy is a licensed therapeutic boarding school for teens located in Western Montana. Unlike a typical boot camp for teenagers, the school provides wilderness therapy based on a 12-step program.

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