Parenting, being a teen, starting high school… no one said it was easy. There’s lots of advice out there and it may seem obvious but real life isn’t. Setting boundaries, finding a balance and ongoing communication are some of the basic principles of a successful family. Sounds simple enough until you run up against a wall and things start to go off the track. That’s what 13-year old MT and his parents faced. Thankfully, they asked for help. AMCAL Family Servcies answered.
MT was a regular kid who did well in school, liked sports, and his parents encouraged him in his local football team. After starting high school, MT began having incontrollable emotional outbursts, swearing, broke objects around the house and was aggressive towards his parents. Unfortunately without any success, his parents attempted to discipline MT, set boundaries and consequences but it wasn’t working. You might think this is typical teenage behaviour and that it’ll pass or you might consider that this wouldn’t happen in your family? But what more can MT’s parents do? They reached out to their school resource counsellor and they were then referred to AMCAL Family Services.
The family participated in the 14-week Residential Program which included an eight-week structured therapeutic program of respite care for the youth. The goal of the program is to provide a strengths-based, solution-focused approach that supports and assists families facing difficulties, and promotes family integration. With coaching and support, MT’s parents learned important parenting tools that helped them work on consistency with rules and expectations, following through and matching appropriate consequences for the behaviour MT was displaying. MT became more responsible, accountable for his actions and learned how to better verbalize his needs and feelings to his parents.
Another school year is well on its way and MT and his family continue to do their homework. MT’s mother shared with us that it’s not easy, but with the right tools they maintain their open communication, and are now stronger as a family, more confident as parents and generally much happier. Sometimes you may just need an impartial professional to help guide you through the rocky road of life as parents. Over 90 percent of parents and families who go through AMCAL’s program see an improvement in their parenting skills and an enhanced family dynamic.
Back to school tips for everyday parents:
- New place, new people=new emotions: Take note of your child’s emotional status regularly. Day one may be full of excitement and positive but month 2 might be a different story.
- Keep them talking and keep talking to them: Plan regular shared meals at least once a week for an opportunity to discuss everyday issues and accomplishments. Car rides can be a great place for impromptu conversations, even if it’s about sports, music or clothes.
- Balance and prioritize extracurricular activities: Scheduling also means including some down-time even if it’s once a month. Reconnect with a movie, video game or go for a walk.
- Every kid is different, so take this into consideration when giving advice and setting expectations.
Ask for help, don’t wait. Resources are available at school, healthcare provider or organizations like AMCAL Family Services.