Did you get the message that “tough love” is the only thing that can save the lives of struggling young people and teens?
Wondering how to help teens who are trying drugs or alcohol?
When I first tackled the problem of drug use in my family, I thought tough love was the approach that worked. I had to be tough to get results.
As I learned more, I realized that tough love not only doesn’t work out most of the time, but can be detrimental to struggling teens and young adults.
Many parents have a hard time understanding the tough love approach. People may have told you to stay away or let go of your child. How do you stay sane when you see your child spiraling out of control? Without resources and family support, your child’s recovery will be more difficult.
There is no “one size fits all” recovery. There are many complex issues for individuals with difficulties and their families.
A tough love approach may sound appealing if you are Feeling scared, exhausted, and out of ideas to get your child to change.
You may be wondering, “Do I use ‘tough love’?” kick him out? let him stay? Or continue to provide love and support? ”
you are not alone.
The problem for me was that my mother bear’s instincts weren’t good at drawing hard, inflexible lines on the sand. I was very conflicted and worried about my child.
Turning your back on your child will lead to sleepless nights and anxious days.Yet our family was told When I went to pick up my daughter from the conservation program. I remember the counselor asking each of us if she would open the door if her daughter had a relapse and tried to go home. Their correct answer was “no”.
I understand the logic. Still, I knew I couldn’t turn her daughter away without asking her for help.
Is it effective?
“In the old days, a tough love approach was the norm, but many professionals have moved to a boundary-setting approach because it combines firmness with self-care and support.” ~Mountainside Tina Müller, Family Wellness Manager at the Treatment Center.
Parents have heard that they will have to kick their sons and daughters out of the house if they don’t stop using drugs. The idea is that your child will learn a lesson, but the problem is that your child probably won’t get better. People living on the streets and couchsurfing tend to go downhill if left alone.
If your child is waiting to “hit rock bottom,” sadly no one knows where the rock bottom will be. Your child may not come home. That could prove to be a dangerous approach.
Such an approach fails to recognize that people do not choose to become dependent on substances. Children’s problems are often the result of complex factors and require years of counseling, support, training and empowerment to overcome.
Why “Tough Love” Hurts
In late 2004, the National Institutes of Health released a “state of the science” consensus statement, concluding that “hardening” treatments “are ineffective and may exacerbate problems.” attached.
It harms teens and young people by pushing them further into drug use.tough love is possible Be harsh and punitive. A confrontational approach can make children more resistant to change. It can also damage your relationship with your child, sometimes permanently.
in an article from Washington Post, A recovering patient said: “In fact, ever since I started thinking I needed cruel treatment, my fear of cruel treatment has prevented me from seeking help. If I thought I could have found a treatment that didn’t follow the dominant confrontational approach (even now), I probably could have cut it short.”
One mother wrote that a counselor told her son to detach and let go of his emotions if he had a relapse. He was several states away. She followed that advice for several weeks.
When I finally got in touch with my son, he was in a terrible state. Her son came home temporarily. She was able to persuade him to try again. She remains haunted by the fact that he might not have succeeded had she not intervened.
Derek Naylor, 36, explains in the article: Tough love doesn’t work: A new approach to helping addicts “During her active addiction, Naylor experienced a ‘tough love’ approach herself. He was clean for two years, then relapsed. “My family’s ‘tough love’ approach played a big part in my suicide attempt,” he said. “It wasn’t their fault that I attempted suicide, but what they said and did drove me to a corner.
Seeing a child suffer when they need your help is so dangerous and heartbreaking. A less punitive, more compassionate approach can reduce drug use. It also reduces family anxiety.
It may seem easier to just turn your back and close the door. Still, your child is more likely to agree to seek change if you are nearby.
Here are three alternatives to the harsh love approach.
1. Take time to understand the problem
Taking the time to understand the problem opens up ways to talk to your child and allows your child to understand their behavior in new ways. Both of you will understand that addiction is a problem that your child can solve.
The first step is to understand the root of the problem. It’s better than trying to control a child’s drug use through discipline.
It’s easy to be tempted to skip this step. Feelings of guilt and regret may arise. These feelings can be distressing for parents. When raising children, remember that things are never perfect. Your child’s drug use is not your fault.
To get to the root of the problem, we need to understand what it is.
2. Use positive encouragement
The New Science of Human Relationships“Positive encouragement stimulates parts of the brain that enhance mental abilities such as ‘creative thinking, cognitive flexibility, and information processing,’ which are the mental abilities people need most to find solutions to their problems.” To do. ~ Daniel Goleman, Author Social Intelligence: However, messages that are consistently negative and focused on a person’s flaws and shortcomings can only increase feelings of stress, fear, and anxiety. This approach predictably further limits the potential for individuals and communities to break out of strongly entrenched patterns of harmful behavior. ”
Even if your child uses drugs or alcohol, look for what they are doing right. Look for things that can be strengthened. It can be a small thing. Adult children who live away from you take longer to make and answer calls. Admit it.
It may seem strange to reinforce what your child already has to do. Substance use changes the situation and prevents your child from acting like other children their age. You can help change by reinforcing positive behaviors. Reinforcement snowballs positively.
3. Set clear boundaries.Please hold your child accountable
Setting boundaries and accepting consequences are two powerful ways to influence.
Get out of the way and let your child feel the consequences of his actions. Your teens and young adults will learn powerful lessons.
Setting boundaries sounds like a tough relationship, but there is a difference. Boundary setting is done upfront with love and care for your child. Tough love is often used punitively when parents are angry.
Set your own boundaries and communicate them to your child. Be calm when discussing restrictions so your child doesn’t become defensive or argumentative.
If you include your child in the conversation, you may be surprised at how willing they are to cooperate..
Clear boundaries, set with love, give children limits and help motivate them to change. You take care of yourself, other family members, and the environment throughout the process.
Finally, be honest with yourself about how you get through. You want to feel secure and confident that your boundaries are actionable.
Also, holding children accountable for their actions will have a greater impact. You can talk to your child repeatedly, but it may turn into white noise. Help them understand that their actions have consequences.
Finally, treat your child as you would like to be treated. Lead by example. If you want respect, treat your child with respect.
I hope you can reassure me that there are options other than the harsh romantic approach.
Staying calm and supportive with your child can put you all on a healthier path.
thank you for reading!
This article was updated on July 12, 2023.