When Your Teen Becomes A Juvenile Delinquent

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If you turn on the television and watch the news, there is usually a news story about youth, such as risky behavior, vandalism, and violence. Many teenagers blatantly refuse to abide by the rules of their parents and society. Since time immemorial, there have been individuals who act criminally. However, with modern technology, you will see and hear about this criminal behavior more often. Nowadays, a teen who works violently usually becomes viral on social media.

If your teen engages in delinquent or illegal behavior, you might be very concerned about your teen’s future.

Why Does Your Teen Engage In Delinquent Behavior

A parent commonly knows when there is a significant concern regarding their teen. It could be due to factors that generally come with being an adolescent, such as changes in mood, hormones, or peer pressure. Or maybe the change in behavior could be due to the teen having recently gone through a significant trauma or loss. It is possible that there were issues at birth, and it escalated as the child grew. Anxiety, stress, and medical problems can lead to bad behavior. Knowing why can help you understand the bad behavior and can even assist in redirecting it. Because according to Sandi Lindgren PCC, LICSW, “Developmental differences include: physical, social/emotional, cognitive/thinking/learning, and morals/values. However, there are some common needs: a safe place to live, plenty of sleep, and parents or guardians who love them regardless of their behavior.”

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Warning Signs

Delinquent behavior often refers to criminal behavior or actions that involve criminal or illegal acts. Warning signs that a teen might engage in delinquent behavior in the future include being aggressive physically against other individuals, taking other people’s property, damaging other people’s property, being cruel to animals and other individuals, and intimidating or threatening other individuals. If your teen regularly acts violently, abusively, or dangerously, then you should consult a professional therapist right away to provide immediate intervention and support. Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC advises parents “To discover the why of rebellion, you need to listen past the words to the heart of the matter while paying special attention to the emotion shown. Look for body language to help you discover what is going on.”

What You Can Do If Your Teen Engages In Delinquent Behavior

A parent cannot control the behavior of their teen. However, they can control how they respond to the teen’s bad behavior. The parent is not responsible for every decision their teen makes. A parent cannot be with their teen regularly to ensure that they properly behave. A parent’s job is to hold their teens responsible when they engage in bad behavior.

A parent should always make their teens accountable when they engage in delinquent behavior. And if necessary, you should call the police, especially if the teen’s delinquent behavior is a legal issue.

Evan Kimble, LMHC says “In order to figure out what they value, many teens actively reject their parents and their parent’s values.” A parent should always remember that actions speak louder than words. Your children remember your actions better than they remember your words. If you teach them values, you should also be prepared to practice what you preach.

A parent should provide consequences for bad behavior. Even if your teen acts as if they do not care about the consequences of their bad behavior, you should still impose the consequences.

A parent should seek support for themselves. Do not try dealing with your teen’s delinquent behavior alone. Seek help and support from a counselor, a good friend, or a support group.

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Reasons That Individuals Change

You might have made changes in your life. You may have lost weight, transferred to a new job, ended a bad relationship, or stopped smoking. You were not comfortable with your behavior, so you decided to make changes. Teens also can make changes to their bad behavior. They are usually not motivated to change, though. Parents are generally unable to control the behavior of their teens. However, they can motivate their teens to change their bad behavior.