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If you are living with teenagers, you know that they want their freedom and they want to do things their way.  These years can be stressful for both the teen and the parent.  Here are several reasons why I think teens might behave rebelliously… along with some stress management strategies that, in my opinion, can help you keep your sanity!

What causes your teen to be rebellious?

1.  Your teen is learning “self identity”.  During adolescence your child is trying to discover his unique identity and “personality brand.”  In these teen years, your kids are likely to push for more independence and may rebel against what they perceive as overly strict rules.  Household rules that they have followed before can now suddenly cause resentment.

2.  Your teen may be seeking attention.  If parents become too busy, wrapped up in their own work schedules and responsibilities, they may find little time for the family and neglect to recognize what their teen is doing.  This lack of attention can be very upsetting. In my experience, teens sometimes act out to gain attention, even if it’s negative.

3.  Your teen may be experiencing peer pressure.   Teenagers find it extremely important to belong to a group of friends who appreciate and respect them.  More of their time and attention is given to friends than to parents, which is why it is important to know who their friends are and what type of behavior they have.  If friends are joining in destructive behavior such as consuming alcohol, participating in drug use or sexual activities, your teen may feel pressured to do the same.

4.  Teens are experiencing hormonal changes. Their bodies are undergoing many physical and hormonal changes.  These hormonal fluctuations often lead to mood swings, which can be rapid and lead to wild variations in emotional responses.

How can you manage the behavior of your rebellious teen?

1. Practice an honest form of communication with your teen.  Teen stress is real.  This time in a teenager’s life can be upsetting for everyone and you may find that you do not have the patience to keep calm.  Be honest with your teen and take the time to listen to their concerns.  Keeping an open line of communication is imperative for both teen and parent.

2. Develop a set of rules with well understood consequences.  Make certain that your teenager knows the boundaries. Explain that as a parent, your first priority is your teen’s safety and that it is very stressful for you, the parent, if you do not know where they are or why they are late for curfew. If you do modify household rules, I personally think you should include your teen’s input for both the modification and for the consequence that will be enforced if rules are broken.  A rebellious teen might be somewhat more cooperative if she is an owner of the rules and consequences.

3. Encourage individual accomplishments. Never compare yourself with your teen or other siblings with your teen. If your teen is a younger sibling, they may believe they are not as smart or talented as their older siblings.  Self-esteem is crucial to foster during these stressful teenage years.  Each child is unique; make certain that your teen is aware of their talents, abilities and intellectual capabilities.

4. Show respect. You were once a teenager.  Showing respect for your teen’s individual accomplishments, honesty and self-reliance will help your teen develop into a mature adult who is capable of making realistic and responsible decisions.

As your teens navigate through these stressful years, let them know that you will love them, no matter what happens, and that it is okay to make mistakes.  The most important thing for a parent is to have the time to be available when your teen needs to talk, and to be supportive.  Cyberbullying, peer pressure, making college decisions, and making new friends can be difficult, but having a supportive parent helps manage the stress and keeps the family members sane.

Dr. Gatty is the mother of two young adult boys, a life coach, author and organizational strategist. She also hosts a website, which offers stress management strategies, life skill development, and a means of finding your true passion in life. You can also find Dr. Gatty’s “Stress Management 4 Women” on Facebook.


If you find any comments that are rude or inappropriate, please contact us immediately.

  • Terrinelson72 Says:

    My 14 year old son has court on Nov 15. The court is recommending that he go to a juvenile detention facility for a 60 day diagnostic. I started implementing the program in the spring and my son took my car to get what he wanted. Subsequently, he has been charged for joy riding. I feel like giving up. He says I don’t care about him. I am so sad that we are where we are at. I had to get him an attorney because the state attorney assigned to him was incompetent. My daughter is a senior this year and we are all so stressed out. His grades this year started out really well but now he seems like he doesn’t care. Any advice would be helpful.

  • Ann Says:

    Teenagers face a lot of problems: problems with peers, school, studies and parental boundaries just to mention a few. These problems cause many teens to act out, many times in rebellious ways. It is vital to be able to communicate clearly, without judgment, and honestly with the teen in order to identify what is the real or core problem that is causing the misbehavior. If you can establish that kind of environment, do it. Remember, do not be judgmental while exploring the issue. If you have a pastor whom your son can trust, seek his/her help. Show your son that you do care by your actions. Remember, setting relistic boundaries is a way of showing him that you do really care for him. Lots of love and good communication is a good recipe.

  • georgia Says:

    i have a 17 yr old with bipolar. we just discovered she stole $300.00 from our checking account, just since she has been hanging out with the wrong group of kids. my head is spinning right now, i have tried everything i could think of. she fights with me when i try to ground her, we have called the cops, she is so smart and beautiful,i just want her to snap out of this and realize what she is doing. what can i do? i feel helpless. we see a phys. dr. she is on meds, she skips school, on second ticket. i just want to super glue to a chair until she sees what she is doing.

  • may Says:

    I have 17 yrs old son who is rebellion and lately has been skipping school and his marks has been going extreemly down what should i do. in mean time he doesn’t respect his curfew time but other than that he is okay what should i do how i keep him away from his friends who has been influence his behaviour

  • D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor Says:

    To “may”: Thank you for sharing your questions. I can hear how frustrated you are with the choices your son is making and I can understand the desire to limit the outside factors you believe are influencing his behavior. Something to keep in mind is kids are influenced daily by many outside sources like TV, social media sites and other forms of media. It’s probably not going to be effective to try to forbid your son from spending time with certain people because that may have the opposite effect. As James Lehman discusses in his article Does Your Child Have “Toxic” Friends? 6 Ways to Deal with the Wrong Crowd there are ways you can try to limit the time he spends with friends. We would also suggest focusing on his behavior. Ultimately, your son is responsible for the choices he makes, regardless of the outside factors that may be influencing his decisions. It will be helpful to have clear limits and expectations around acceptable behavior, for example, what time he is to be in every night. If he chooses not to meet that expectation, you can hold him accountable with a consequence. We would also recommend problem solving with your son to help him develop replacement behaviors and better problem solving skills. Here are a couple other articles you may find helpful: How to Give Kids Consequences That Work & Why Consequences Aren’t Enough, Part 2 Making Child Behavior Changes That Last. We wish you and your family luck as you work through this issue. Take care.