The Ins and Outs of Tough Love for Troubled Teens
Love can come in many forms, and is sometimes a hard thing to show, especially to a troubled teenager. There’s a fine line between tough love and overkill when trying to lay down ground rules for a teen who has spiraled out of control. This month is all about showing the love, so if you are finding it hard to find a way to show the tough love to your teen, see below for some great tips.
It can be warm and sympathetic. Tough love is not showing your teen that it’s “my way or the highway” when trying to lay down rules. This type of parenting is often ineffective and can backfire. Showing a troubled teen tough love can mean being firm, but also showing them that you care deeply by using calm tones and trying to work together towards a solution, but also reaffirming that ultimately it will be up to you.
It’s a way to enforce real-life consequences as learning experiences. It may seem extreme, but tough love can sometimes call upon a parent to be the ones to enforce the consequences of troubling actions. One example would be, if your child is found skipping school, notify the school that they need to report the truancy instead of covering for them.
It can teach a clear hierarchy of who runs the home. The parents should always be the authority figures in a home that has children. By enforcing rules, boundaries and expecting them to be followed or facing repercussions, the parents are establishing their authority in the home and sending clear messages that that is not going to change.
It can force parents to be more mindful. When setting boundaries and rules, parents may have to learn to lead by example. Tough love affects everyone in the home, including those trying to enforce it. Parents become more mindful of the way they speak or treat teens when they are expecting respectful and calm behavior in return.
It can show when intervention is needed. If a parent has tried tough love techniques to no avail, it may be time to have professionals intervene. It’s not the parent’s fault if the teen continues in risky and troubling behavior.
Depending on how far gone you believe your teen is, there are several options when seeking professional help for a troubled teen that is not responding to the changes in your household, however strong you are at enforcing them. Outpatient programs like online programs for teens can be the first step or outpatient therapy. Residential teen programs can be very helpful as well in removing your teen from the situation. Teen Wilderness camps, troubled teen military programs or teen therapy residential programs are some of these options.