During the teen years, many kids who struggled with self-control, depression, or other mental health issues face even greater challenges.

For many teens, school becomes more difficult, peer relationships can be a struggle and their developing brains may have trouble keeping up. For some kids, it can feel like they have no control over their lives. These kids can quickly be labeled “troubled teens.”

But they are really struggling teens who need help.

The next step for your teen when he is struggling with school and life is up to you.

Choosing the Help He Needs

It doesn’t always make sense to us as adults, but when your teen is acting out, he may be really reaching out for help. Your teen may not know what he needs to regain control. He may even be sure that the help you suggest is wrong. That’s because thinking clearly is a luxury a child who is struggling with emotional health issues doesn’t have.

Your teen may not know what he needs to regain control. He may even be sure that the help you suggest is wrong. That’s because thinking clearly is a luxury a child who is struggling with emotional health issues doesn’t have.

It is up to you and your child’s therapists and counselors to recognize when things have gone beyond the point where you can help him.

When providing your teen with counseling, structure, and discipline in a loving environment doesn’t help him maintain his self-control and self-esteem, it’s time for a new plan. That plan may include a choice to provide your child with intensive in-patient or residential treatment like that offered at Resolution Ranch.

We know that sending your child to live with someone else is a difficult choice to make. Before deciding how to help your child, you want to consider as much information as possible.

To help you weigh your options, consider the following information. It can help you to decide if a therapeutic residential program like Resolution Ranch is the right answer to your child’s call for help.

Signs that Your Teen is Struggling


Lots of people say that “kids can be cruel.”

Mean behavior is sometimes overlooked as if it is a teenage rite of passage. But, being aggressive and mean isn’t normal teen behavior.

Instead, overly emotional or physically cruel behavior is a sign that the teen is in trouble. He may be suffering from abuse, such as bullying at school. Or, he may have a mood disorder such as depression.

Mean behavior may also be a sign that your teen is abusing poor choices or alcohol. Regardless of the cause, a child who is regularly mean and hostile toward others needs intervention.

You can start helping your teen by arranging for him to talk to a mental health professional to the root of the problem.


Pushing boundaries, rejecting authority and some rebellion are typical behaviors that you should expect from your teen as they develop their sense of self.

However, a troubled teen’s defiance goes beyond maturing and self-discovery.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, extreme defiance may actually be a condition called Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Extreme defiance can be dangerous for your teen and those around him. Defiant behavior can lead to delinquency or substance abuse. This level of resistance can also prevent your teen from forming friendships and succeeding in school.

If your teen is spiteful, refuses to follow rules, frequently angry and verbally aggressive, then an evaluation may be necessary.

A trained therapist can help you determine if your teen is experiencing something beyond normal teenage growing pains.


In an interview with, Judge Glenda Hatchett shared that one sign that your teen is struggling is a sudden change in his choice of friends.

Some of this change is normal during adolescence, as kids pick up new interests and meet more people. But, a sudden change in friendships may be a warning sign of bigger problems. If your teen has dropped good friends in favor of a new, questionable crowd, he may be headed down a negative path.

An equally troubling sign is a teen who has difficulty making or maintaining any friendships. This may be an indication that your son is acting out or that he is being targeted for exclusion at school. Sometimes kids have falling outs. But if you child is continually struggling to keep good friends or following bad ones, then you should be on alert for other troubles.


Unfortunately, self-injury among teens is not uncommon. Up to 20% of teens have harmed themselves on purpose at some point. Your teen may cut or otherwise hurt himself as a form of emotional relief.

It is an unhealthy coping mechanism for a child who is in emotional pain.

Your teen may be hurting himself in ways that you can’t see right away. He may hit his head or body, cut or scratch his skin or pull out his hair. If you suspect self-harm, then treatment can help your teen learn better coping mechanisms.

Emotional control can be difficult at any age. With help, your child can regain control.


Teens use poor choices or alcohol for many different reasons. Peer and social pressures to appear cool or a desire to experiment may lead them to try different substances.

The reasons your child decides to use a substance may indicate that he is struggling. Is he seeking relief from emotional pain or depression? Is he desperate to fit in with a bad crowd? Is he engaging in risky and self-destructive behavior?

Ongoing use of poor choices or alcohol may mean that your teen is addicted and can no longer control his usage. Regardless of the reasons, the risk of harm from drug or alcohol use by your teen is too great to ignore.

Helping Your Troubled Teen Take the Next Step

From his first days of life, you have always been there to help your child. He still needs you.

If you are seeing signs that your child is troubled, get in touch with us at Resolution Ranch. We’ll listen to your concerns and help you decide what is best for your teen.

Our trained staff recognizes the signs of a troubled teen. We know how to respond to your teen’s call for help with firmness and support. Our residential therapy program can provide him with constant care. He’ll learn to regain control over his life, step by step.