When a young person has serious difficulties, stress levels are usually high as family members worry about them and try to help. There is often confusion about how best to handle difficult situations. Even though the focus of the problem may be the young person's behaviour, you can't change what they do. Your only choice is to focus on how you can change what you do.
Building Our Relationship
Imposing solutions on a young person is likely to be met with resistance rather than interest. Make suggestions, or let them come to you. Think about the times that you clash. What are the triggers that make one of you react badly, and how can you avoid them?
When There is No Relationship
It can be very hard for families and young people to begin to connect again, due to hurt, fear or guilt. You may not know where to start or you may feel worried that if you contact them, they may reject you.
Boundaries are guidelines between people about suitable behaviour and responsibilities. Setting and keeping boundaries can be difficult with an adolescent, because they may be challenging parental authority and wanting independence. New skills may be needed to negotiate good working boundaries with young people.
Helping Them Start Over
Change and recovery from difficult times or trauma for young people and their families takes time. Be content with little steps in the right direction. Encourage learning, work and recreation, at the pace or level that your child needs and wants. Help to support your child to be independent.
Good communication does not always mean getting what you want or reaching agreement. Pick your moment for talks about important things. Make the most of everyday opportunities to have casual and friendly conversations. Plan what you want to say and how to say it.
Dealing with Conflict
Anger and disagreements are a normal, healthy part of human relationships. Conflict can be resolved if everyone tries to keep calm and show respect for others. If your child is angry with you, hear them out, and then explain how it makes you feel. Come up with some safer ways for them to express their feelings.
Dealing with Violence
Violence is never okay. You need to set boundaries and consequences that make it clear that violence is not accepted. Likewise, abuse towards children is never okay. If this has happened, you need to get help to stop. If your child is threatening to hurt themselves, call the police or Crisis Assessment Team.
Family counselling and other support services may help you get to the stage where you are able to move on in your relationship with your child. Use our service directory to find out more about the types of help available.