While broaching the subject of a troubled teen to parents may not be perceived as a challenge to educational consultants and other professionals who are hired to give advice, it may be much more daunting to counselors, teachers, youth pastors and others who are in frequent contact with students but who are not in direct contact with their guardians.

And although confronting parents with concerns may be difficult, it is the responsibility of the person in charge to report these concerns to parents before they escalate into serious issues.

According to Compass Rose Academy director and licensed mental health counselor, Mike Haarer, although parents may become defensive and possibly even hostile when they are confronted with the news of their child’s behavior, it is a risk anyone with authority over the child should be willing to take.

“It’s important for parents to receive feedback about their child,” Haarer says. “And if you care enough for the child, you need to be able to take a risk and talk to parents about your concerns. They may not always like what you have to say, but you are doing it for the benefit of the child. Keep in mind that you are helping and not just pointing out bad behavior.”

In order to lessen a parent’s resentment toward the conversation and instead encourage their cooperation, Haarer says counselors, teachers and the like should keep the following in mind while talking to parents about a student’s behavior.

  • Address specific concerns and examples of misbehavior. Do not approach a parent with hearsay or something you have not witnessed directly.
  • Speak in a calm, friendly tone.
  • Avoid giving parents the impression that their child is hopeless. Stay positive.
  • Be willing to provide ongoing support to both the child and the parents.
  • Provide the parents with additional resources such as books, websites or contact information for other trained professionals. According to Haarer, there are excellent resources available including “Raising Great Kids,” “Boundaries with Teens,” “Bringing up Boys,” and “Bringing up Girls.”

For additional information or to speak with a licensed mental health counselor about your situation, please contact us.