Get Ready… Summer is Here!

Teenagers jumping at the beachWhen the teenage years arrive, behavioral issues become far more difficult to manage than when your kids were younger. Things once black and white become confounding shades of grey. When a teenager experiences emotional distress, you can’t always fix it with a hug. When they display disturbing behavior, simple behavior management strategies, like taking away the cell phone, don’t always work.

So how do you keep them on the right track?

We’re going to assume this is new territory, meaning your teen has not been involved with serious issues like drugs, mental health involvement or run-ins with the law. This blog is about prevention, and how you deal with the initial warning signs that if unaddressed, can lead to serious, life-threatening changes in your teen’s life. 

Here are some steps you can take to make sure this summer is a positive experience for you and your teenager:

Communicate – Seize the moment and talk with your teen. Initiate an open, honest, and direct dialogue. Seek out other parents who’ve been through risky teen summers and lived to tell the tale: they can be a great sounding board and resource. 

Seek Professional Help- Teenagers display a wide range of emotional issues including depression, anxiety and self-harm. Recognize these behaviors and have a plan ready if needed.

Keep them busy- Work, travel, volunteering, sports, camp, and fun-leisure classes - the more the things going on, the less likely they will get into trouble. Schedule the days with community volunteering. Check with local nonprofits, they often have projects youth can get involved with. Plan a family vacation or several one day events, end it with an evening cookout. Check out local ballgames in the area.

Finally, it’s hard to tell whether this option belongs first or last on the list. It depends on what level of care or intervention your teenager requires. Summer therapy or specialized groups can be very helpful for your youth. Contact your local mental health agency and find out what treatment options may be available.

Remember, adolescence is characterized by risk-taking, boundary-pushing, and notoriously poor decision-making. We’ve all been there! When your teenager acts like the last thing they want is your input, the opposite is true. They need your help and guidance now more than ever.

Lean in: your teenager needs your help.

This doesn’t have to be the summer when it all goes wrong. This can be the summer when everything changes for the better. This can be the summer when it all goes right! 

David Passmore is the Vice President for Residential Services at Boys and Girls Homes of NC.

Learn more about our services at B&GH.

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