One of the biggest challenges teens face is coming to terms with their looming adulthood. While they want to develop their independence, they still require your love and support, even if their actions say otherwise.

In the transition from childhood to adult, teens often struggle to find their place. New opportunities abound, but so do new demands, expectations, and responsibilities. The key is to maintain ongoing communication so you can spot signs your teen is struggling. Here are effective strategies to keep the lines of communication open and recognize the signs your teen needs help.

Maintain a Connection

If your teen is completely withdrawn, angry or secretive, it could be a sign they are struggling. Maintaining a connection with your teen can help. It might be something as simple as knocking on their door and asking how their day went or inviting them to help you make dinner so you can enjoy a little one-on-one chat. Parents often leave their teens to their own devices, sending the wrong message that they are no longer involved in their teen’s lives. The key is engaging in conversation to maintain that connection and trust.

Continue to praise your teen for the things they do and the contributions they make to the household to help them build self-esteem and confidence. If your teen is less chatty, try sharing stories about your day. Ask their opinion about things to show them you respect their point of view. This helps them see you are approachable, so they’ll be more likely to speak to you about their feelings or issues they encounter.

When your teen does try to connect, be 100% focused on them and avoid putting them off. Offer confirming, caring comments that show them you understand so they are encouraged to share their feelings.

If you sense something is wrong, ask how they are. If they say they’re fine, let them know you are always there to talk about anything free of judgment.

Be Understanding and Supportive

When your child is overly emotional, angry, or combative, it could be a sign they are struggling with the pressures of teen life. For example, if your teen is reluctant to help out at home, keep in mind they aren’t necessarily being difficult. They might need help managing conflicting deadlines for assignments and social/sports activities. Consider setting up a family schedule where they can add their assignments and extra-curricular activities so you can help create a more manageable family schedule.

It’s easy to forget what it’s like to be a teen. There are tons of pressures, including difficult school curriculums, conflicts with friends, peer pressure, bullying, developing a sense of individualism, worries about getting into college, and more. This makes it easy for teens to feel overwhelmed. It’s important to respect their private space and time, so they have time to relax and do the things they love. Otherwise, they can become frustrated and dissatisfied, which can lead to emotional issues such as anxiety.

While you want them to learn to problem solve, you also want them to know they can come to you to find solutions for bigger problems they can’t solve on their own.

Avoid Conflict

If you find everything you say leads to anger or aggressive behavior, your teen could be struggling with emotional or behavioral issues. Listen to your teen when they are expressing their views and avoid immediately getting into arguments. Conflicts arise when emotions run high, so you must learn to take the high road. Instead of having to be right all the time, teach your teen the art of productive discussions where each person can express their views or feelings.

There are many things going on in the world that can make life scary for troubled teens. Empathy is important, especially when you disagree with your teen’s views. It allows them to form their thoughts and talk about things that worry or even anger them without being dismissed.

Learn from past conflicts by reflecting on difficult conversations to figure out what went wrong. Share your insights with your teen so you can work together to become better at communicating. When you maintain control over your emotions, you teach your troubled teen how to express their feelings in a more productive way.

Know When to Seek Help

Despite our best efforts as parents, sometimes professional help is necessary. If your efforts have been unsuccessful, reach out to a health care or mental health professional to assess the situation. They can determine if you’re contending with “normal” teen strife and angst or a troubled teen requiring treatment for mental health conditions or to help manage emotional behavior.

For some teenagers, a structured environment that includes schooling and mental and behavioral healthcare may be the right answer. Therapeutic boarding schools provide a safe, structured environment for teenagers who need extra assistance. Such an environment helps teenagers understand their own complex emotions and behaviors, while learning new skills and techniques to manage problematic behaviors.

Therapeutic boarding schools provide around-the-clock care and assistance that is simply not possible in other environments. Learn more about how therapeutic boarding schools, such as Telos Academy, provide help for troubled teens.