All the billboards seem to be singing the “Back to School” refrain already.  There is no telling how your adolescent may be feeling about the idea of getting back to school.  Some young adults go through the summer reading list and actually enjoy it, while others seem to take summer as a complete educational escape and instead go trekking, biking or doing things that they do not get to experience during school months due to time constraints.

While thinking about the fast approaching end to her summer, you might encounter her balancing between the excitement and cynicism of return.  One moment she is in high spirits bringing other teenagers home for fun, and at other times you might find her sitting alone, muttering about not having any more time for vacation.

Whatever the case may be, there no escaping the dreaded first day of school.  As the school year gets off to a quick start keep in mind a few tips in dealing with troubled teens to make this school year smooth.

Set Goals

If you haven’t done so already, sit down with you teen and identify meaningful goals for the year.  Having significant direction is an important element that gets overlooked.  Troubled teens oftentimes perform poorly because they lack clarity and understanding of the “big picture”.  Setting goals with this in mind will give your teen a clear target.  All the efforts of your teen this school year should then be geared towards achieving the goals identified.

These goals set should be realistic and attainable.  Get beyond the proverbial “do well and get good grades” and move towards something more specific.       

Identify Rewards

The use of rewards with a troubled teen is important.  Many times difficult teens act out because they want the reward of your attention.  Start out this year by giving her the gift of your attention and identifying additional rewards that she can earn by doing well.

First, start with rewards that are meaningful and value based.  Discuss how doing well in school will award her with a strong sense of purpose, internal satisfaction and higher self pride.  Also discuss how doing well will better prepare her for her future.

Then, if you deem appropriate, identify gifts that will encourage your teen.  I like scaling gifts based on performance.  The higher her grades, the higher the reward.  Gifts don’t have to be expensive and if you don’t have the financial flexibility to purchase gifts come up with creative ways to reward her.  Added freedom, flexibility and increased privacy are all rewards that most troubled teens want.

Positive Parenting

One of the most effective ways of encouraging your teen to do well in school is by being positive.  Difficult teenagers are trouble seekers.  They act out to get your attention.  Give her your attention by staying positive and maintaining your focus on constructive things.

I recommend starting with small things to build momentum.  You can positively comment on politeness, picking up around the house, taking out the trash and many other simple things.  Positive reinforcement is important and is a very beneficial way of motivating teenagers.  As your teen begins to receive acknowledgement for these small things, her desire for added attention will begin to shift behavior.

In order to have a successful school year this year, you can play a huge role by getting involved and implementing these simple three tips to help your teen.  If you appropriately set goals, identify rewards and maintain a positive parenting plan, you may find by the end of the year that you troubled or difficult teen, is not so difficult.

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Positive Parenting for Troubled Teens

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