In this lesson we are going to explore the out-of-control teenager. In it you will learn:
If you have not done so already, make sure you have taken our FREE foundation program The Neutral Parenting Formula: A Blueprint For Raising Successful Teenagers. This will really help you get the most from this lesson otherwise some of the concepts outlined may not make sense. You can access it here for FREE through the end of 2012. After this the program will cost $997.
think back to when you were a teenager. Did you ever have a phase where you were out of control? Where you acted or lashed out in ways that were destructive? If so, what caused those behaviors? What made you so upset or out of balance that you behaved in such harsh ways? If your teenager is out-of-control, how do you think they got there? Are you ready to take an honest look and do what it takes to bring them back to a calm and centered state-of-being?
It’s one of the questions I get asked a lot by parents when their teenager is out of control. Whether it has to do with anger, food, video games, drugs, or any other “device” or abusive actions their teenager has used to lash out, what can a parent do once their teenager has entered into a downward spiral?
Please note this is the “rock bottom” phase of anger. First a teenager becomes angry. Second, they rebel. Third, they hit rock bottom and spin “out-of-control”. So while there may be some similarities in the anger and rebellion lessons, please keep in mind that this is a much different phase.
To give you an example, if your teenage daughter is exuding these behaviors, then the first step was that she was acting rude and obnoxious. She would not listen to you; her grades at school may start to slip; and she may have been a bit snippy. If she is rebelling then she is talking back to you, hanging out with the wrong crowd, and dressing much differently. But if she is out-of-control, then she is sleeping around and acting like a slut, cutting herself, becoming overweight, never in school, and acting “crazy”.
This is why I separated Anger, Rebellion, and Out-Of-Control because each will require a different approach.
First it’s important to understand why they have gone down this path. Remember that the only reason anyone chooses this type of behavior is because an environment has been established where it’s more probable for him or her to do so. You need to realize that anytime someone lashes out (regardless of age), it’s because of how they feel inside and their outward actions are a subconscious way for them to experience what they feel like on the inside. Everything starts from within and our outer world reflects our inner world.
Ask yourself, “Why is my child so angry, sad, hurt, and/or confused?” Chances are there is something specific going on that is causing it and until you get to the “root cause”, every approach will be putting band aides over the symptoms. Some of the causes could be:
Remember the only difference between being angry and out-of-control is that the root issue has been going on for so long and it has gone unresolved that its now at the rock bottom stage.
What To Do
As humans, almost all challenges we face have to do with a sense of self worth in some shape or form. How that plays out through the set of props on the stage of life is different for each one of us but the root cause is pretty much the same. Once you have explored some of the “whys”, then you basically have two options:
1. Direct intervention.
2. Wait it out.
Below we will take a closer look at the pros and cons of both options.
1. Direct Intervention
If you want to intervene with your child and stop the madness, you need to be prepared to take on the responsibility of what comes with this choice. It means that your teen’s entire life structure is going to change drastically and you will be responsible for helping them to build a new template for their life. In most cases, teenagers and young adults are sent away to either some boot camp or clinic.
The reason this method can work (although there are many cases of relapses) is that you’re taking the child out of the negative environment where they’re lost in destructive behaviors and replacing it with a positive and constructive one where they have a chance to choose healthier options. In doing this, you’re creating a “new world” for them but it’s such a drastic change from one world to the next that you will experience some serious backlash and reactions.
If you recall the “probability factor” I outlined, if your teenager is facing an extreme challenge then it’s because an environment has been created for them (because of multiple reasons and circumstances) that will make it more probable for them to continue along this path of destruction. When you remove these elements via an intervention, then you make it less probable for them to continue on this path.
However, this is such a shocking approach for your teenager that if you don’t create an alternative environment for them that is filled with love and support, this route can backfire and actually cause more harm then good. It’s vital for you to understand that the most important ingredient for this method working is surrounding your child with a positive and constructive environment. They have to remain in this environment so that they can work through their emotions and create a new and healthy pattern. Because this method can be very expensive, it ‘s tough for families who cannot afford to keep their child in such an environment.
Also, chances are your home environment added to this problem and that means that you will need to take an honest look at your lifestyle to find out how you contributed to creating an environment in which your teenager was able to become out of control. Don’t assume that just because you have money and are “well off” that this can’t happen to you. Environments have to do with the people and emotional make up, not just physical abundance.
If you are going to take this route:
A. Make sure you can afford to stick with the program all the way through so that your teen can transition from “one world” to the next, and that the next world is stabilized.
B. Make sure your home environment is supportive to helping them create their new life. Not only physically, but emotionally.
C. Be honest with yourself and change anything you have done that may have contributed to the situation. Make sure you’re willing to take a hard and honest look at yourself and then begin the healing process.
D. After you have removed them from their old environment, you need to make sure you focus on getting out all of their negative emotions. The root cause to anyone becoming out of control is his or her emotions. Somewhere along the way they developed some negative emotions that sent them in a downward spiral. Until they are brought to the surface and dealt with, nothing else can be put in place because it wont have the right environment for it to “stick”.
2. Wait It Out
The other alternative is to wait it out and let your child hit their rock bottom. The reason this method is powerful is because you allow your child to experience the consequences of their choices. While of course it’s very hard to watch and endure, it can work wonders. Think about it. Look at how many adults in our world wait to hit rock bottom before they make a change:
Most people like to wait until hitting rock bottom before they wake up and realize that it’s time to take action and make a change in their life. It’s unfortunate and not necessary but most of us have a hard time seeing the darkness we’re in until it just can’t get any worse.
If you decide to go this route, here are some steps you can take:
A. Provide a neutral and unconditional loving space – while it may be challenging and heartbreaking to watch your child spin out of control, by going this route you’re not adding fuel to the fire and you’re removing any judgment, fear, and anger so they don’t have more psychological baggage added to their psyche. You truly have to let go, be neutral, and allow them their space to hit their rock bottom. And to be VERY clear, this is not about throwing your hands up in the air and saying, “I give up and I don’t care anymore”. Quite the contrary – you love them so much that you‘re allowing them to go through their experience and will be waiting there with open arms and ready to help them when they’re ready.
B. Tell them you love them with all your heart – You will need to find the right time to have one talk with them (and then let go afterwards) where you express your dying unconditional love for them. Even though it may not seem like they hear you, they do. This is VERY important because when they hit their rock bottom, they will be in a better frame of mind to hear what you said and that will help them toward their process of recovery. What you are doing is “planting a seed” that will take root and give them something to latch on to once they have hit their bottom.
C. Lead by example – Chances are you might have done something in allowing this to happen. No, it is not your fault. But you did play a part in it and you will need to take a close and honest look at yourself and then begin your own healing process. Once your child sees you doing “the work”, it will make it far more probable that they will follow suit. You will need to create a more positive and healthy environment to support their healing process. In other words, “If you build it they will come”.
D. Find someone for them to talk to – If you’re having a hard time relating with your teenager and don’t have the type of relationship with them where they value your opinion, find someone else who can relate with them. People who are going through a hard time tend to connect with someone else who has gone through something similar. By finding someone for them to talk to, it helps them begin their releasing phase and that is the first step in the healing process. Make sure that it’s not a therapist or counselor who is going to analyze them to death. Rather, it should be someone who has gone down the same path they’re on so they can offer them a real world perspective, not a clinical one.
No matter which path you end up taking, it’s going to be tough and my heart goes out to you. However, your responsibility is to find the positive in the situation and use this as an opportunity to learn and grow. Any time you spend on feeling like a victim, angry, sad, depressed, and so on, it just adds fuel to the fire. This is not just a wake up call for your child, but for you as well. Use this as an opportunity to learn and grow and face your own fears. The sooner you find the positive; the better chances you will have of turning the situation around.
Either way, if you are reading this now then my heart goes out to you and I truly wish you and your family the best in your healing process.
I am on a mission to help heal this planet because I truly believe that so much of the trauma and drama our society endures stems from the fact that as youth we did not learn how to address our emotions, solve our problems, and discover our authentic selves. If you find any of this material beneficial, please support this school and our message by taking the following actions below.
– Sergio Diazgranados