One of the reasons why teenagers get into trouble is because of their involvement with gangs. A gang is a group composed of young people who, in their thinking, have the same goal in life. They spend a lot of time together, hanging out with one another and doing “their thing.” Eventually, they will get in trouble.
Joining a gang is attractive to young people because through these groups they get to have that “sense of belonging.” They have that “understanding” from people who are just about their age. There is nothing wrong with that. But when they become troubled teens, it’s too late for regrets.
As parents, you must nurture and protect your child no matter what it costs. Keeping them away from gangs should also be on your list. Below are some tips from Lisa Firestone Ph.D., a psychiatrist, on how you can meet this important life goal.
Look For Signs That Your Teen May Be In A Gang.
If you notice changes in your teenager like the way they talk and dress, or they have new tattoos or piercings, then start investigating. These are the initial signs that your child may be involved in a gang. Once your suspicion is confirmed, confront the teen immediately.
Bond With Your Teen Every Now And Then.
Allot some time to be with your teenage child. Be an engaging parent. Hear him out as he talks about his day. Be supportive of his activities and always be there to comfort him. If he feels the love, acceptance, understanding, and security at home, then your teenage child won’t go out and find these from others.
Here are the things you need to learn from therapists:
- “Teens are known for their emotional volatility.” – Kyle S. King, LMFT, LCPC
- “Teenagers may try to experiment with smoking marijuana, vaping or try alcohol at a party. Research shows that experimentation can lead to habitual use and abuse of drugs or alcohol.” – Amy Topelson, MA, MA, LPC, NCC
- “Common symptoms of depression in adolescents are irritability (generally more so than sadness), anger, hostility, and melancholy.” – Kathy Hardie-Williams, MEd, MS, NCC, LPC, LMFT
Do What You Preach And Be Your Teen’s Role Model.
Show your child that you, yourself, are doing the right thing. You follow and respect the rules, never get involved in illegal activities and be a good citizen in your community.
Be Involved In Your Teens’ Life.
Make sure that you are in your teenager’s world. Get to know his friends and peers. Always keep track of his activities and schedules.
Let Your Teen Join Extra-Curricular Activities.
Encourage your teenager in activities after school. However, make sure that he’s into something productive like sports, art, and the likes. Having extracurricular activities will give your teenage child a sense of self. This tip will get him away from the temptation of joining a gang since he’s already involved in Boy Scouts, Basketball Varsity, Chess Team and more.
Motivate Your Teen To Do Well In School.
A teenage child that has a strong educational foundation is correlated to having strong personal values. Encourage and support your child with his academic venture, and this will keep him off the streets.
Practice A Positive Attitude With Your Teen.
Teaching your kids how to handle problems at an early age will help them stand firm in their ground despite tough situations. A child with this attribute knows how to handle himself and evaluate “positive” options. And one of these options is not to get involved with gangs.
If Your Teen Makes A Mistake, Maturely Explain The Consequences.
Always present to your child the consequences of every possible action. In this way, he will be aware of the outcome if he gets in trouble. Aside from the punishments, also state the impact of deliberate wrong choices in life.
Teenagers by nature are vulnerable and impulsive. They are easily tempted and convinced. As a parent, you must safeguard his welfare by building him up and instilling in him the conviction that joining a gang is not a life worth living.