How To Deal With “Hard To Love” Teenagers

He was a “Hard To Love” teenager.  Deep down inside you knew he was a good kid, but he was just too much of a disruption.  There we were with his parents discussing what to do with the situation.

Courtesy of sarihuella/Creative Commons License

Courtesy of sarihuella/Creative Commons License

In the end we developed a plan to have him take a break for a week.  It was tough, but in the end worth it.  As he got older he matured and became a great student leader. 

We all have those “Hard To Love” teens in our ministry.  There is nothing evil or malicious about them.  They just give you a headache here and there.  They cause disruption and it annoys you.  It’s mainly because they are still maturing. 

While it’s a normal part of youth ministry, you don’t just have to take it.  When you have those “Hard To Love” teenagers you need a plan.  And that means:

GETTING TO KNOW THE FAMILY

You might feel like blaming the parents.  The reality is that you just need to get to know them.  When you get to know the parents of a hard to love teenager you begin to resolve the situation.  They’ll be able to affirm or clarify your feelings.  They might have suggestions.

When you approach the family be kind and affirming.  Let them know that you want to get to know their child a little bit more.  Make sure they know you are there to partner with them and not give up on them.  In the end they’ll work with you on improving their child’s (And your) experience.

TAKING THEM ASIDE

Teens that misbehave or act out are sometimes looking for a little one on one attention.  If a teen is being disruptive take them aside and ask them if they are okay.  If you can (With the parent’s permission) take them out for a bite and let them know they have an ear.  Let the hard to love teens know that you are trying to get to know them.

PARTNERING WITH A VOLUNTEER

When you have a hard to love teen you need back up.  Find a volunteer with more patience or someone who might connect with them better.  The reason you might conflict with the teen is just because of personality differences.  Partnering up will also make sure that you don’t expedite all your energy on one kid.

SETTING EXPECTATIONS

Many times teens act out because of a lack of expectations.  They might not have anyone holding them accountable.  They might not know what’s expected of them or where the line is drawn.  Be loving, but make sure the hard to love teens know that you believe in they can be better.

When you change the strategy around you’ll learn to love those hard to love teens a little more.  Embrace the relationship and ask God for patience.  In the end you might still be tired, but you’ll show that teenager the forgiving and patient love of our Heavenly Father.

Question:  What would you describe as a hard to love teen?  How do you deal with them?    You can leave a comment by clicking here.