Dealing with a Troubled Teen

troubled teen

We’ve all seen or interacted with a troubled teen. They’re rebellious, defiant, and even rude in some cases. They certainly challenge parents and teachers who want what’s best for them yet are tired of dealing with them.

A parent wrote to me about her 15-year-old daughter. She said that her troubled teen was determined to boycott any parenting techniques the parents tried to employ, including suggestions from the Parenting Without Stress book.

According to the parent, the daughter asserted that she was moving out as soon as she turned 18. The parent also commented that the daughter usually made good choices on the big decisions, but was miserable to live with on a daily basis, especially when stressed. The parents tried to give her lots of freedoms, but that wasn’t enough for this troubled teen. She resisted any ideas that weren’t hers and even told her parents that she hated the concept of “family.” The parents were at a loss and needed advice.

Here are my suggestions to the parents for dealing with this troubled teen.

  1. Persist in speaking to your daughter in positive terms. Agree to her choice of moving out when she turns 18. (This is a paradoxical approach in that once you agree, she may very well change her mind—not immediately, but when she turns 18.)
  1. Resist telling her anything. Share information, such as, “You may want to check out what a monthly rental will cost and plan your budget for it.” Sharing in this situation would be better than asking reflective questions because just by asking she will feel that you are coercing her for an answer.
  1. In regard to her wanting 100% freedom, inform her that she can have it all when she leaves home. As long as she receives shelter, clothing, and food, and is living with the family, she has a moral obligation not to thrust her negativity and toxic attitude on other family members. However, and this is critical, resist “telling.”
  1. It’s sad that your daughter hates the concept of “family.” It sounds to me that your daughter is trying to prompt arguments. Therefore, don’t engage in any attempt to influence her. You may want to explain to her and clarify that the family has been the social arrangement throughout history. Just explain; don’t try to influence her. As long as she believes what she believes in, she will justify it. You cannot be successful in arguing with people’s beliefs. Just explain your own. It is through her reflecting—in part with what you share—that has any chance of her changing.


What successful strategies have you employed when dealing with a troubled teen? Please share your comments on the Without Stress Facebook page.