Troubling Behavior: When to Consider Troubled Youth Programs

Five Signs Your Teen May Be Headed Down the Wrong Path and That Its Time to Consider Programs for Troubled Youth


Parenting a teen is no easy task. Neither is being a teen. Teenagers experience mood swings, engage in rebellious behavior and test the boundaries of authority. This is normal. It may be difficult to determine what constitutes normal behavior for a developing teen and when the line has been crossed and troubled youth programs should be a high consideration. Helping a troubled teen get back on the right path requires first identifying him or her as being in need of help. The following is a list of red flag behaviors to help determine whether your teen may be in need of treatment.

Peer influence. It’s natural for teens to withdraw from their parents and associate more with their friends as they develop a sense of self and gain independence. Red flags include a sudden change in the peer group your child is part of, especially when this new group promotes negative behavior. Likewise, when a teen suddenly becomes isolated and withdrawn from his or her regular long-term group of friends, this may be cause for concern.

Drug and alcohol experimentation. Most teens will try cigarettes and alcohol, and many will try marijuana. Open discussions about this topic will help to establish boundaries, consequences and help a teen to make better choices. Habitual drug or alcohol use is a definite red flag, especially when it impacts school, social or family life.

Mood swings. As teens endure hormonal and developmental changes, they will experience mood swings, accompanied by irritability and heightened emotions. Red flags include severe changes in personality, persistent sadness, anxiety, sleep troubles, and problems in school. Take any talk of suicide seriously.

Rebellious behavior. Teens will inevitably test boundaries and defy authority. When a teen begins to avoid consequences, lies, or fails to comply with reasonable rules, they may be in need of help. Red flags also include cutting school, fighting, run-ins with the law, and engaging in violent behavior.

Appearance change. As teens begin to develop a sense of personal identity they will experiment with different appearances, fashions and trends—some more extreme than others. Minor or gradual fluctuations in weight are normal. If a change in appearance happens somewhat suddenly (such as all of a sudden dressing in sexually provocative clothing), and is accompanied by negative changes in behavior, it may be a red flag. Extreme changes in weight or evidence of self-harm are indicators of a troubled teen.

Seek help if you identify red flag behaviors in your teen.

Seek the advice of a counselor, therapist, doctor, or other mental health professional to determine an appropriate course of treatment. Your teen may be experiencing any number of issues, and it is important not to think of your teen as the problem; rather, understand that his or her troubled behavior is a result of a more significant underlying issue.

There are many things a parent can do, even if your teen is not troubled. Despite their apparent disdain for their parents, teenagers do require love and acceptance. Be there for your teen, keep your anger in check, find common ground, listen without judgment, and expect rejection.

Remain supportive while your teen struggles with developing into a young adult. In the end your relationship will be better for it, and your teen will one day thank you.

To learn more about troubled youth programs, and additional signs to look for when it comes to rebellious behavior, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980.