Sociopathy is a severe form of antisocial personality disorder. People diagnosed with sociopathy do not feel empathy or sympathy for other people and do not equate consequences with their actions. They often lack real emotion, have a difficult time feeling love, are narcissistic, manipulative, paranoid and deceptive. Sociopaths have a hard time conforming to the norms and expectations of society, and tend to go against the grain when it comes to societal rules and standards. Although mental health professionals typically do not officially diagnose a person as a sociopath until at least the age of 18 years old, the traits of the disorder may come out in a teenager a lot sooner. Learning how to handle a sociopathic teenager will not only help the child, but those around him as well.
Show your child unconditional love. It’s tempting to avoid a person displaying sociopathic behaviors, but this will only drive your teen further into her disorder. Spend time with her, tell her often that you love her and go out of your way to make that child feel wanted, regardless of how difficult it may be.
Supervise your teenager. While teens who do not exhibit sociopathic behavior tend to want their privacy, sociopaths need closer supervision. The Mayo Clinic notes that sociopaths are at risk for violent behavior and risky sexual behavior, so closely keeping tabs on your teen can help to divert these behaviors.
Seek help for yourself. You cannot help your teen unless you know what you’re up against. Join a support group, online or in person, with others who are facing the same obstacles as you. Learn about the disorder, educate yourself about how to deal with it and seek comfort from other parents of teens exhibiting sociopathic behavior.
Set up an appointment for your teen to see a psychiatrist. Although a formal diagnosis of sociopathy is not typically made until a person is 18, a therapist can help your child deal with his sociopathic tendencies. A therapist can help teach the teen skills and behaviors to help him fit in with the rest of society and lessen his sociopathic behaviors. In addition, if medication is necessary, a medical professional can prescribe it.
Be positive toward your teen. Sociopaths do not respond well to accusations or ultimatums, nor do they like to hear about how you feel. Avoid telling your teen how his behavior is negatively affecting you or making you feel sad or mad. Instead, focus on his feelings and ask him how he’s feeling and avoid accusing him of things, especially something you aren’t sure he did. This will only make him angrier and could lead to a violent situation.
Talk with your teen about the difference between right and wrong. Although by the teenage years, kids typically know the difference between the two, sociopaths have no concept of this reality. Even if you think she’s not listening, talk to her frequently about making good and bad choices and the consequences of her actions. Do this in a positive, non-threatening way to avoid upsetting her or making her angry.
Find a support group for teens with antisocial personality disorder, and if there’s no such group in your area, consider starting one yourself. Group therapy can be beneficial to sociopathic teens by allowing them to discuss their negative behaviors and feelings with people who know exactly how they feel. If you do start a support group in your area, it’s important to find a licensed medical professional to lead the group. This will not only protect the safety of the others in the group, but will allow for structured guidance for the participants to help them deal with their disorder.
- PsychCentral: Antisocial Personality Disorder Treatment
- MedicineNet.com: Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Discovery News: Can a Child be a Sociopath?
- Psychpage.com: Antisocial Personality Style and Disorder
- The University of Vermont College of Medicine: Sociopathic Behavior in Children
- HealthGuidance: Characteristics of a Sociopath