Dealing with a Rebellious Teen? 4 Ways to Manage Their Behavior

November 3, 2010 by

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.

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