Teens: Out of Control

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Is your teen out of control? Start the new year off on the right foot and follow these tips from our expert on how to help manage your teen’s behavior.

By Brittany Dyer


In the past, I have talked with parents who describe their teenager’s behavior as being “out of control.” When I ask them to take a closer look at the situation, it is usually the child’s environment that is out of control, and the child is acting out because it is the best way they know how to control their environment. From an outsider’s perspective, it does not seem like they are doing a very good job at controlling their environment, but from the teen’s perspective, they feel in control of something, even if it is only their negative behaviors.

Mood swings and irritability are common teenage emotions, but more serious actions, such as physically abusing another person, drug usage or legal trouble, are signs of more serious issues.

So what are some solutions if you see any of these signs in your teen?

Show your teenager how much you love them. There are many things that get us of course throughout our parenting life, but the most important thing we can do for our youngsters is to love them. Over time, showing your child how much you love them can drastically change their behavior. It may take time, but consistently showing your teen love, will help them feel safe and secure, which will lead to less acting out.

Respect your teen. We all want respect, and your teen or preteen is no different. If you do not respect your teenager, how are they going to learn to respect you? The teenage years are so tough. Your teen is growing up and learning to be independent, but, for the most part, they are still too young to make major decisions for themselves. Allow them to make the decisions they can and coach them through the decisions they are not yet ready to make on their own. Gain their respect in whatever way you can think of. If you respect them, they will respect you and others in return.

Communicate with your kids. By talking to your child, your little darling will generally tell you what is going on in his life. They may not directly confess exactly what is happening, but if you listen intently, they will give you bits and pieces to help you gather information about why they are behaving the way they are.

Spend time with you child. Do things things they like to do, one-on-one. Have family dinners together. Go to their sporting events or even practices. Watch them perform music, ballet, theater or whatever they enjoy.

Develop household rules. Allow your child to participate in developing the household rules and be intentional on what rules you set. Do not set too many rules and be specific in the rules you set. Set rules the entire household can abide by. If you are not willing to follow the rules, your child will not obey them either. Set consequences to enforce the rules as well. Set consequences that you can follow through with. If they are just empty threats, they will not work. If a rule is broken, it needs to be followed up with a consequence.

Pick your battles. We hear this all the time, right? It is so true though. If we criticize our young ones for everything they do wrong, then why would they not start acting out? If they are always wrong, why not always do the wrong thing? With this being said, remember to praise them when they do something right!

Check-up on them in school. Contact school personnel to let them know you are concerned. Have their teachers communicate their homework assignments, if this is an area they are struggling with. Find out what other resources will benefit them at their school as well. Find out how you can help them in school and how the school can advise you as well.

Seek professional help. Often when a child or family gets to the point where the adolescent is acting out, professional counseling may be needed. One child’s behavior might be altering the entire family dynamic, and family counseling might be beneficial to the entire family. Find appropriate tools to help your situation.

photo by CGP Grey CC BY 2.0

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