Are You Tired of Your Troubled Teen?

Self-care is important for any parent

Woman sitting on step with phone in hand looking exhausted or sad

Francesco Carta fotografo / Moment / Getty Images

Raising a teenager, even under the best of circumstances, can be a challenge. But if you've got a troubled teen on your hands, adolescence can be quite tumultuous.

Whether you're dealing with curfew violations and truancy, or you're worried about substance abuse problems and legal issues, worrying about a troubled teen could keep you up at night. And you may grow tired of dealing with behavior problems, mood swings, angry outbursts, or secretive behavior.

Parents of troubled teens have to learn ways to juggle the needs of their teen with their own needs. Exhausted parents have to find ways to replenish themselves, which often falls by the wayside when trying to deal with a high-risk adolescent.

If you want to be able to be at your best, it's important to take good care of yourself. Charging your batteries will ensure that you're equipped to deal with a troubled teen.

Admit Without Guilt

Admit that you're exhausted from dealing with your teen's troubles. Don't feel guilty, and don't beat yourself up.

It's normal, you're human, and dealing with any difficult human is a challenge. When that difficult human lives in your house and depends on you, it's even more draining.

Admit it to someone else. Whether it's a friend, family member or therapist, talking about your feelings can help. And hearing an outside perspective may help you see something you're missing since you're so close to the problem.

Schedule Time to Take Care of Yourself

Make sure your to-do list includes taking care of yourself. Carve out time to attend your own medical appointments and take care of your health.

And make sure you schedule time for leisure activities. Whether you grab a cup of coffee with a friend or you sign up for a class that you'd like to take, set aside some time for things you like to do.

It's easy to put yourself last. But, self-care is a critical part of caring for others. So schedule a little time for yourself every day and carve out bigger periods of time to engage in enjoyable activities at least a few times a month.

Find Support

Try to find other parents in similar situations to talk to. Consider attending a support group in person or online.

Support groups have a long history of providing reassurance and a sense of community to people dealing with similar issues. Parent support groups are designed to exchange information, reduce stress and help find ways to cope.

It's like being coached, supported, educated and cared about by other parents in the same boat. Other parents who are raising troubled teens will understand the stress you feel and talking to them can be quite helpful.

Practice Mindfulness Skills

It may find it's tempting to rehash all the things that went wrong yesterday or worry about all the things that could go wrong tomorrow. But overthinking won't help.

Learn mindfulness skills so you can be in the here-and-now. Mindfulness skills can quiet your brain and help you gain a sense of calm, even in the midst of chaos.

Take Care of Your Body

Perhaps exercise is the last thing you think of when you're exhausted but moving your body is energizing. It also keeps you healthy and will help you think more clearly.

So go for regular walks, lift weights, or sign up for a class. Taking care of your physical health will help you best manage your mental health.

It's also important to make sure you get enough sleep. Staying up too late and getting run down will only compound your issues.

Seek Professional Help

Don't hesitate to talk to a mental health professional. Speaking to a therapist can help you find coping strategies and stress management techniques.

You'll also be a good role model for your teen when you show that you value taking care of yourself and your mental health.

If you think you could benefit from speaking to a mental health professional, talk to your physician.

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  • Miller CJ, Brooker B. Mindfulness programming for parents and teachers of children with ADHD. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2017;28:108-115.