Families and the community can often feel lost when trying to help troubled youth. Since every person is different, no guaranteed approach will improve behavioral problems. Fortunately, several methods can be used to help youth improve their behavior and family relationships.
In some instances, inpatient counseling can be appropriate for troubled youth. This form of treatment is typically reserved for youths that pose a danger to themselves or the community, such as those with suicidal or homicidal tendencies. Otherwise, outpatient counseling is preferred because youth stay in their family and community. Counseling can help youth work through various problems, such as breakdowns in family structure, drug abuse, and mental illness. In most situations, youth benefit from a combination of individual and family counseling. Individual counseling often involves cognitive-behavioral therapy, which works on modifying thoughts and behaviors that are dysfunctional. Family therapy helps family members learn to set boundaries on behaviors and build stronger relationships.
Many troubled youths perform poorly in school and have a lengthy history of truancy and behavioral problems. Some of these issues can be rectified if appropriate school resources are available. For some youth, their behavior is not a manifestation of genuine disinterest or dislike for school, but a way to cover up learning disabilities or other problems. Proper evaluation is key to identifying issues that can make learning harder, such as problems with reading or reading comprehension. Once any learning disabilities are identified, youth may need placement in educational environments that allow them to have individualized attention, whether during school or after school. Older youths may also benefit from vocational studies in addition to, or instead of a traditional classroom education.
Structured Extracurricular Activities
Some youth respond well to structured extracurricular activities. For example, some communities offer free boxing or karate classes, which can keep kids out of trouble and from falling victim to neighborhood gangs or drugs. Through these programs, youth learn both self-confidence and self-discipline. Physically engaging activities can also be useful for children who have a history of aggression or physical violence. They can learn to redirect these feelings into something constructive rather than destructive. Other extracurricular activities that should be available are those that allow youth to explore their creativity, such as art and music, which have often been cut from school programs due to budget constraints.
A combination of tactics are necessary for effective troubled youth treatment, with counseling being the foundation of any approach. Customizing your approach based on the needs of the individual will increase the likelihood of positive outcomes.