Reaching Out to “Troubled” Teens

The youth may very well be a driving force for change in the country, but they are certainly not insulated from certain problems that have always been a critical issue in child psychology. Outside academic circles, the term “troubled teen” is used to describe young people who are likely to commit crime or exhibit deviant […]

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The youth may very well be a driving force for change in the country, but they are certainly not insulated from certain problems that have always been a critical issue in child psychology.

Outside academic circles, the term “troubled teen” is used to describe young people who are likely to commit crime or exhibit deviant behavior. 

Some media outlets are quick to say that violent behavior is inherent in a child, but if we try to at least assess the situations that young people encounter, we would avoid making such negative assumptions and would instead look for a better way to intervene. 

Whether or not you are a parent, reaching out to a child who has emotional problems requires an open mind and empathy. After all, we all need someone to talk to, and the way you reach out to a teen is the first step to helping someone live a fulfilling life.

1. Build trust

If there’s anything you need to do to put someone at ease, it’s to open yourself up. Trust is important when communicating with a teen, so before you develop rapport, you need to show that you can be trusted. That said, playing the blame game won’t work nor does telling someone to “chill”.  

The key here is to be a good listener. Let the teen talk about what he or she feels. You might also want to talk about how you feel, but make sure to do it sincerely. From there, the teen will be confident enough to talk to you about things that are bothering them.

2. Watch out for details

Most teens are reluctant to express their feelings to authority figures. They either avoid every chance to have a proper conversation or deny these feelings altogether. At any rate, your best hope would be to observe a teen’s verbal and non-verbal cues.

There are subtle reactions you should look out for, so whenever you talk to a teen, certain gestures or expressions can give you a good (although rough) idea about a teen’s behavioral patterns. Tapping the finger or blinking repeatedly are just some actions that give away a certain feeling or sentiment. 

3. Talk about real-world experiences

Once you are able to build trust with a teen and provide space to talk about his or her feelings, you may have to give some insight to the conversation.

Talk about similar experiences you have had and tell the teen how you were able to cope with it. Teens need a role model who can teach them about what they can do when it comes down to difficult situations.

4. Never pull away

There will be instances when a teen wants to push you away. But instead of reacting negatively, you should instead give the assurance that you are always here to help out.

So instead of showing frustration, keep reaching out. You can also consider forms of family intervention mental health advocates agree with. Whichever is best, never let go.

Many “troubled” teens can be helped with love and care in a world that’s full of noise. Be the person they can turn to.

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