19 Jan

Exasperated by Your Teen’s Behavior?—The Truth Behind the Rebellion

Rebellion and teenagers seem to go hand-in-hand.

For parents especially, teenage rebellion can be frustrating and confusing.

However, there are definite reasons why your teen rebels and there are ways that you can address the problem.

Searching for Identity

One of the things that teens struggle with is forming an identity. Although this is a lifelong process that changes over time, the teenage years are crucial for this development.

This is the time when teens are transitioning from the last remnants of childhood and becoming adults. As this happens your teen is trying to understand who they are as a person and what defines them. Some have already figured this out for themselves but most need more time.

The result is push-back towards parents and previous forms of identity.

Wanting to Be Independent

Another reason why your teen is rebelling is the search for independence. As teens get older, they want to have more self-determination for their lives. For example, they like to decide how they spend their time, who they associate with, and choosing their own career.

Most teens can balance out the desire for independence with the expectations placed on them by their parents. However, for some, this is more difficult. Instead of seeing parents as helping them reach independence, rebelling teens see them as obstacles.

Struggling With Rules That Don’t Make Sense

Teens who rebel often struggle with rules or expectations that don’t make a lot of sense to them. In fact, if they are told to do something that they think is ridiculous or is not reasonable, they won’t do it.

This is because, from their perspective, if the rule doesn’t make sense, why follow it? Not following rules also falls into a broader category around control.

Not Wanting to be Controlled

Control issues are often a reason why teens rebel. Most people, in general, don’t like it when they feel controlled. We all want to be able to direct our lives as we see fit.

If a teen feels that they can’t be independent, express their identity, or must follow rules they disagree with, they feel controlled. The result is that they will find ways to gain that control for themselves.

Striking the Balance

All these issues are actually quite normal for teenage development. Parents should encourage their children as they develop their own identities and seek out independence. How?

For example:

  • Trying different clubs, sports, or hobbies
  • Pursuing an interest in music and performing arts
  • Getting dirty by fixing a car, doing yard work, etc.
  • Applying for a job and earning money
  • Contributing to the household by doing chores
  • Understanding that there are expectations that they must meet

The problem comes when teens push back even well-meaning attempts of support from their parents, and parents are ill-equipped to handle the situation.

What Parents Can Do

When it comes to teen rebellion, there are many tools and approaches available to parents.

For example:

  • Listen to your teen. Understand where they are coming from and what they are struggling with. Let them know that you understand and want to help.
  • Work with your teen to find common ground when it comes to household rules.
  • Getting dirty by fixing a car, doing yard work, etc.
  • Empower your teen to make more choices on their own in their lives.

If your teen pushes back, refrain from escalating the situation. That only feeds into the power dynamic that is being created and will only make things worse.

What Parents Can Do

Rebellion is part of the nature of being a teenager. However, if you’re continuing to struggle with your teen and their behavior is causing real problems for the family and your relationship, it’s time for professional help.

Your teen will benefit from having someone listen to them who is not part of the power structure they are pushing against. On the other hand, as parents, you will benefit from working with a therapist, too. Understanding your role in the situation and what you can do will empower you to make better decisions as well.