In the field of behavioral health, there is a reason persons under the age of eighteen cannot be diagnosed with a personality disorder, (Axis II). The reason is, with intensive psychotherapy and familial support; young persons have been known to make significant changes to detrimental aspects of their characters, for the better.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be characterized by rapid mood swings, chaotic relationships, and consistent impulsiveness. Adults with borderline personality disorder usually presents with a low sense of self worth, anxiety and chronic depression. It is not uncommon for adults with BPD to make suicidal threats, a threat to be taken seriously since completed suicides occur in about ten percent of persons with BPD. Alongside with the threat of taking one’s life, the difficulty in having peaceful relationships with others is usually characterized by an inability to keep a job, failed intimate relationships and legal problems. Most people usually stereotype BPD to be mostly confined to the female population, but in truth just about an equal number of men have BPD. They usually go undiagnosed and most are in the prison system.
Teenagers who usually present with strong BPD traits, present with a poor sense of self worth, suicidal threats, self injurious behaviors (think cutting), as well as self reported feelings of emptiness. They also present as being easily irritated and routinely will have anger outbursts. Their close relationships with family and peers are usually characterized by drama, chaos and they are impulsive.

There are four ways parents with teens who display strong borderline traits can begin to help them towards the path of change, for the better. These methods are as follows:

One: It’s Okay to Make Mistakes
Given that most teens with strong BPD traits present with a low sense of self worth, a parent who’s overly critical will only make matters worse. Parents should practice this: So long as your child has done nothing to hurt others or reflect a lack of empathy towards others, simply talk to them about the situation. A good example would be poor grades in school.

Two: Poor Anger Management
Fires don’t put out fires, responding to your teen’s anger outburst with an anger outburst of your own will only help them make the behavior more habitual. If your teen resorts to throwing a temper tantrum, let them. If it is over something you wouldn’t give to them for appropriate reasons, don’t give in. Remain calm and make sure they are safe, once they have calmed down, talk to them about the behavior and don’t be afraid to give consequences. If they resort to breaking items that don’t belong to them, make efforts to ensure they replace such items, if they resort to threatening your safety, calmly inform them that if the threat is made again, that the authorities will be called in. If the threat is made again, follow through.

Three: Suicidal Ideation and Self Injurious Behaviors
Take all threats of ending one’s life seriously; this includes self injurious behaviors, such as self mutilation through cutting. While research studies suggest that cutting isn’t indicative of suicide, treat the situation as a suicidal threat. Rush your teen to the nearest emergency ward or psych ward and depending on the severity of their actions or threats you may also get them admitted over night for observations. At home take any and all items which can be used to hurt one’s self from their room, I have known parents who have taken off the doors to their teens’ room. Clearly your teen will not appreciate these gestures, but calmly explain to them that you love them so much and you are taking reasonable precautions to ensure their safety. At this point it is also wise to get your teen to see a therapist, with whom you can work with to develop a contract, where your teen commits to not making any attempts to hurt his or herself. Overreaction is always the best form of action in suicidal ideation and attempts. It also helps you regain control in the relationship, once your child learns that you are willing to go above and beyond, anytime they make threats to end their life, (instead of giving in) they will usually cease the behavior. Overreaction has to be employed every time a suicidal threat or attempt is made.

Four: Build on the Relationship.
Focus more on the positives of your relationship with your teen, from improvement in behaviors, greetings in the morning, completion of household chores, and family outings. Make an authentic effort to seek out and highlight the positives in your teen and the positives in your relationship with your teen. This will help them build on their sense of self worth and confidence.

Author's Bio: 

Ugo Uche is a Licensed Professional Counselor, based in Arizona. For more information about this topic, please visit: