It is a parents worst nightmare and many do not want to think it could ever happen to their family, but teenage runaways are a harsh reality. Teenagers are under enormous peer pressure, some struggle with drugs and alcohol, and there are some that just make bad choices. There are many reasons why a teen becomes a runaway, parents have to be aware of warning signs that their children are at risk. We also need to be prepared for the unimaginable if your child becomes a runaway where to turn to get help for your family and your teenager. Below you will find valuable information on how to recognize warning signs, how to get your child help, and information and resources available in the Houston, Texas area for runaways and their families.
Sometimes it is easy to write off a teenagers mood swing, and changing behavior just to hormones and as being normal. As a parent you want to be sure you always keep the lines of communication open, this can be difficult you will need to walk a fine line. You do not want them to think you are invading their privacy but to keep them safe you need some transparency in where they are, who their friends are, and what their interests and activities are. Be on the lookout for red flags, here are a few.
Sudden Rebellious Behavior
It is normal for teenagers to be rebellious at times and test parental boundaries, but if their change in behavior is sudden and erratic it could be a sign of a larger problem.
Accumulating Money And Possessions
If you see that your child is hoarding money, and keeping a stash of personal items and clothing in a bag they could be preparing to run away. These might be signs they are preparing for a quick escape.
Changes in Behavior and Routine
Teenager all go through bouts of being sad, moody and stressed. They are going through many changes at this age physically, emotional and mentally. A warning sign is if they stop eating, become extremely depressed, will not leave their room, or give up friends and activities.
Talk About Running Away
All parents and their children have disagreements and may say things in the heat of the moment, but if your child is always saying they are going to run away you should listen to them. In many cases it is their way of trying to tell you there is something wrong, a cry for you to help them.
Tips On How To Stop Them
If you are seeing warning signs and are worried about your teenagers behavior it is not too late for you to take action. There are some things you can do to try to get to the root of what is going on with your child and possible keep them from running away.
We all have extremely busy lives and sometimes we do not take enough time to listen to what our children are saying. Take the time to sit down and let them know you are hearing them, and want to understand what they are going through and try to help them deal with it.
As everyone knows always telling your child what to do usually backfires and makes them want to rebel more. Sit down with them and talk to them like the young adult they are. Make sure they have freedom, responsibilities and are aware that they have consequences for their actions. Talk to them openly and honestly.
Give Positive Reinforcement
Be sure that you praise your child when they are performing well, following rules and listening to you. You want to be sure you acknowledge their good behavior not just reprimand them for their bad.
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel your child is at high risk or already has run away there are some organizations in Houston that can assist you. First, remember you are not alone, Houston, Texas has the highest rate of homeless youth in the United States. To get help making sure your teenager does not end up on the streets please contact one of the organizations below.
Department Of Family and Protective Services
Their Texas Runaway Hotline is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. They provide peer counseling for teenagers. There is no charge for their service, they do not take runaway reports they provide anonymous help to teenagers who need someone to talk to. They also have resources for families like: referrals to shelters, help finding counseling, medical assistance, confidential conference calls with parents, and free transportation to runaways.
Teen And Family Services
This Houston, Texas organization offers a number of resources for teenage runaways and their families. They have individual counseling, family counseling, peer groups, twelve step support meetings and more. You can get help through their service 24 hours a day with any assistance you could need.
Depelchin Children’s Center
You will find a wonderful amount of counseling help and assistance through this Houston children’s center. Some of the programs to help your family and at risk teenager are: group therapy, family therapy, individual therapy, psychological assessment, and help with parenting skills. They have a wonderful reputation for being able to help families who do not know how to remedy their situation.