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Troubled Teen Could Become Violent

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I've noticed warning signs that my troubled teen could become violent. What can I do?

A: If you have built up a close relationship with your teen, talk to him and try to understand the pain he is suffering and to help him in any way you can to alleviate it. Your teen sounds like he may be too overwhelmed with emotions he cannot handle and may explode into violence as a consequence. You need to ease that burden and you may need to enlist the help of a therapist who sees many troubled teens in his/her practice. You might also offer to go in with your teen to the first visit as a show of family strength and support. In no way should your teen be made to feel that he is "crazy." He should know that you love him dearly; that you know he is being eaten up inside by overwhelming thoughts, feelings, and circumstances; and that you will not let him continue to suffer in this way.

He may lash out at you and refuse any professional help, but from how you have described his condition, you can't just "hope for the best." Find out all you can from the parents of his friends, from school personnel, and from his friends, who may be very worried about him as well. It's also a time where siblings need to tell the truth about what they have seen and heard, even at the temporary cost of his feeling "betrayed" by them.

This is a time when all extended family and friends need to pull together to diffuse any impending violence and to form a support team, along with professional help, to help your teen regain his sense of well-being and self control.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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