An important dynamic that can occur in families is the “problem child.” This is the teen that always seem to be in trouble. The entire family seems to be stepping one foot back from this family member because they’re giving the family a “bad name.” In truth, this teen in the family has been shown to really be the town crier.

The town crier or the problem child is the teen who is more sensitive than others in the family and feels the family dynamic more personally. They’re not able to shrug it off and act as if nothing is wrong. They not only know something is wrong, but they want it fixed and the only way they know to do that is by behaving so outlandishly that they get help. When they get help, the family seems to get help.

This can be a hard thing to hear when you walk into a therapist’s office to “fix” your problem teen and end up having the therapist say to you, “Well, is there anything going on at home that would make them act that way?” It can seem like one of those cliché’s about therapy stemming from your bad mother. This is a myth and this revelation has nothing to do with mothers. It deals with the dynamics of family and how each member ends up having a role in the family that creates well, your family. Some are fine, but some are very toxic and cause maladaptive coping skills like class clown.

Knowing who your teen is can help you discern the difference between behaviors that are designed to make everything easy for everyone else and those that are designed to point the finger at them because they otherwise get no attention. If you yourself are a little distracted with marriage difficulty, health problems in the immediate or extended family or financial problems, you may be slow on the uptake and act unconsciously when the school says there is a problem, but if you can stop for a second and ask yourself about why your teen’s behavior may be a normal response to stress, you might even anticipate the call and get your family help before it is an unfixable problem.