How To Use Tough Love When Parenting Troubled Teens

How to use tough love to parent troubled teens

Tough love can be thought of as a parenting method that essentially portrays to the child or teen that you as the parent are not going to condone unacceptable behavior, and will not enable them. How to use tough love when parenting troubled teens.

It is well known that teenagers don’t listen to their parents. You will notice that they put up walls and will look at you when you talk to them, as if they have everything figured out and that you can’t share anything with them.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can motivate teens to listen to you, and they will if you set up the environment in their favor. Teenagers want to understand you, so you need to create an environment where they will listen to you.

It also says to the child that when it is all said and done, I am still your parent and I love you.

What is a Troubled Teenager?

Troubled teenagers are those who are experiencing problems that are having negative effects on their quality of life

 These problems will prevent the teen from becoming a happy adult if they continue to affect him/her into adulthood. Those issues aren’t the typical concerns adolescents face.

 Teenagers are often unable to cope with the normal problems they encounter. They may include:

Youth who live in harmful environments, such as abusive relationships, poor peer groups, or unsafe neighborhoods, these teens are more likely to experience physical and mental health problems.

Understanding Parenting Using Tough Love

Tough love parenting is often mistaken by many as ruling with an iron fist aka the authoritarian style of parenting.

However, there is a huge difference in that with authoritarian parenting, the parent doesn’t care about the opinions of the child and is more focused on forcing the child to comply.

Often a lack of compliance with rules and regulations is met with a hard reprimand.

With tough love parenting, the parent can even sometimes be empathetic. It is more like the authoritative style of parenting.

That said, the parent takes the time to ensure the rules are clear and lets the child know that there will be consequences if they break the rules. The parent also ensures that the child understands that they are loved and it is to their benefit.

As opposed to always giving the child extra chances, tough love ensures that the teen is responsible for their actions. The goal is to teach life lessons.

Rules, Limits, and Consequences

Tough love centers on setting rules and limits that must be followed strictly. If the child doesn’t follow the rules, the parent follows through with the consequences.

Tough love parenting is a method used with teens who are prone to making terrible life choices that could cost them. It exposes the child to the consequences of their actions.

 Tips to Succeed at Tough Love Parenting

  1. Ensure that you set reasonable rules and limits and consistently enforce them.
  2. Provide your child with just enough freedom where they don’t get themselves in trouble, while also offering guidance.
  3. Do not control your child. Let them run their lives and enforce the consequences when the limits are broken. This allows the teen to experience the consequences of their actions.
  4. Take the time to show love to your teen and offer them the respect that they deserve as an individual. This lets them feel valued.
  5. In case you are struggling with tough love, always feel free to seek help.
  6. Understand that it is not your fault as a parent that the teen is choosing to engage in unruly and unacceptable behavior.

Parents should also be aware that while it may not be possible to change a teen, it is possible to change their behaviors to which their teenage child can respond and also change their behavior.

What Not to Do with Tough Love

Tough love should never be about shaming or embarrassing or even insulting the teen in any way shape or form.

It should also never be about using physical punishment or setting rules that are too harsh and unreasonable.

Moreover, tough love should never involve threats, such as threatening to harm the teen in any way. Parents should also never lock the teen outside the house.

The Advantages of Tough Love Parenting

Tough love parenting is an excellent way to build a teen’s character. It helps them develop positive habits and the ability to make the right choices. How to use tough love when parenting troubled teens

Teens who have experienced tough love from their parents are also more likely to develop good values such as empathy and self-regulation.

Studies have shown that tough love parenting has a greater effect on the character of a child than their socioeconomic background. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether the children are from rich parents or poor parents.

 Tough Love Parenting Examples

How to use tough love to parent troubled teens
How to use tough love to parent troubled teens

How to Discipline a Defiant Teenager

A disciplined individual is one who is corrected. It is more likely that you will be able to correct them before they exhibit the behavior if you plan ahead of time. Taking this approach will help you get them to listen to you when you need them to

 How to use preplanning;

  1.  You should have a certain script that you use every single time, even if they ignore you
  2.  No matter if they don’t engage with you, they know exactly what you’re saying
  3. And they will know the correction is coming

Dealing With a Disobedient Teen

If you are dealing with a teen who will simply not do as they are told, start by providing clear rules and make sure that you have provided your teenager with the skills mentioned below (teens who don’t care about consequences) to help them succeed.

For instance, if he simply will not do his laundry and would rather play video games, you can pause that one thing that causes him to disobey the rules.

In this case, you pause the use of the Xbox and give him a choice, so he can feel like he is in control.

Let him choose between using the Xbox again after completing all his laundry/chores, or never using the Xbox again because he is choosing not to help out in the house.

Dealing With a Lazy Teen

If the teen hates doing chores, then you should show them that regardless of how they feel, some things simply must be done. After all, nobody is going to eat on dirty plates and dishes.

If they are lazy, you can get them to work even more by adding dirty dishes to the pile and ensuring that they do not engage in anything else during the time that they are supposed to do dishes.

Dealing With a Forgetful Teen

If your teenage child has a habit of forgetting the basics, such as closing their bedroom window before going to bed or forgetting their lunch, then some tough love may be in order. Do not bail them out of this one and let them catch a little cold or stay hungry for the day.

This should teach them the consequences of forgetfulness and is also a great example of using tough love when parenting troubled teens.

How to Discipline a Teenager Who Doesn’t Care About Consequences

Taking things away from children who do not listen is the most common punishment. Parents tend to take away things like phone privileges or car privileges. The parent tries to make their child feel the pain of missing, in the hopes that the child will listen to them or comply to avoid this pain. The method might work for a short time.

It doesn’t seem to occur to the parents that removing things creates a power struggle and is manipulative. 

Rather, it encourages your teenager to start fighting with you. Power struggles are not a wise method of discipline. Instead of trying to intimidate them by instilling fear or anxiety, they need a competent leader to show them the way.

Teenagers need to be taught skills that will help them succeed

  1. Following instructions
  2. Accepting consequences
  3. Disagreeing appropriately

With these skills, your teenager will be able to maintain eye contact with others, maintain a calm face and body, and learn to disagree appropriately.

Dealing With a Teenager Who is Out of Control

Teenage children still crave love, approval, and acceptance from their parents, despite their anger and indifference towards them. Face-to-face contact is the quickest and most efficient way to reduce stress by calming and focusing the nervous system. Therefore, you probably have more influence on your teen than you think.

Be there for your teen and help them find common ground. Schedule 1 on 1 activities to try to improve your communication.

How to Know if Your Teenager Needs Therapy

If you notice that your teenager is showing these signs, it would be a good idea to get them in therapy sooner rather than later in order to help them deal with whatever the issue is

  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Feeling sad all the time
  • Feeling restless or unable to concentrate
  • Expressing suicidal thoughts
  • Talking about harming self or others
  • worried, afraid, anxious, or angry

Final Thoughts

Parents need to understand that they have the authority and the power in the house. This means that if a teen is behaving unruly, then it is up to the parents to take a stand and correct that behavior. This can help build character in the teen and teach them to make better life choices.

Parents also have a vital role to play. They should ensure that their children are productive members of society. As a parent, your most important duty is to love your children no matter what. Hope this how-to use tough love when parenting troubled teens, proves to be helpful.


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