Do You Have a Rebellious Son?
How do parents distinguish between normal and abnormal rebellion in an adolescent?
During the teenage years, the area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex is developing. This is the part of your brain that is behind your forehead. It’s your thinking cap and judgment center… which means kids can now develop their own ideas.
What Is Teenage Rebellion?
Teenage rebellion is an act of highest assertion of independence and little adherence to parental advice during the teen years of a child’s life. It is called a “rebellion” because it leads to an intense confrontation between the teen and their parents. Teenage rebellion may seem spontaneous and illogical for parents, but there are several underlying reasons behind the behavior.
Two common types of rebellion are against socially fitting in (rebellion of non-conformity) and against adult authority (rebellion of non-compliance). In both types, rebellion attracts adult attention by offending it.
The young person proudly asserts individuality from what parents like or independence from what parents want, and in each case succeed in provoking their disapproval. Therefore rebellion, which is simply behavior that deliberately opposes the ruling norms or powers that be, has been given a good name by adolescents and a bad one by adults.
Parents usually dislike adolescent rebellion not only because it creates more resistance to their job of providing structure, guidance, and supervision, but because rebellion can lead to serious kinds of harm.
It can cause young people to rebel against their own self-interests, rejecting childhood interests, activities, and relationships that often support self-esteem.
It can cause them to engage in self-defeating and self-destructive behavior, like refusing to do schoolwork or even physically hurting themselves.
It can cause them to experiment with high-risk excitement, like accepting dares that as a child they would have refused.
It can cause them to reject safe rules and restraints, like letting impulse overrule judgment to dangerous effect.
It can cause them to injure valued relationships, pushing against those they care about and pushing them away.
So adolescent rebellion is not simply a matter of parental aggravation; it is also a matter of concern.
Although the young person thinks rebellion is an act of independence, it never is. It is really an act of dependency. Rebellion causes the young person to depend their self-definition and personal conduct on doing the opposite of what other people want.
That’s why the antidote for rebellion is the true independence offered by creating and accepting a challenge — the young person deciding to do something hard with themselves for themselves to grow themselves. The teenager who finds a lot of challenges to engage with, and who has parents that support those challenges, doesn’t need a lot of rebellion to transform or redefine him or herself in adolescence.
How To Know If Your Teen’s Rebellion Has Gone Out of Hand?
Here are some signs that the rebellion has overshot its limits:
Prolonged display of annoyance and aggression towards parents or other family members
Change in attitude
Less interaction with family members
Always giving short and rude answers
Open defiance even when outdoors or deliberately doing things asked not to be done
Having no qualms about indulging in risky behavior activities like tobacco usage and alcohol consumption
Normal Teen Behaviors
During normal adolescence, you might observe any of the following about your child’s behavior:
Is moody and secretive
Spends much of his time alone in his room
Gets frustrated easily and stomps out of the room
Is short-tempered and impatient, especially with parents
Doesn’t want to spend time with the family
Is late for curfew
Says things like, “Only my friends understand me! I hate it here; I wish I could leave.”
Is discontented and restless
As unpleasant as it is at times, this is all part of the way teens and pre-teens individuate from their parents—it’s part of the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Out-of-Control Teen Behaviors
But some behaviors are not normal. Rather, they’re warning signs. The following behaviors fit into this category:
Being physically abusive to others or destructive in the house
Being verbally abusive, intimidating, or threatening
Abusing a younger sibling
Coming home drunk or high
Staying out all night
Make no mistake—there’s something wrong with these behaviors. Parents who tell themselves “It’s just phase” or “it’s what teenagers do” are setting themselves up for a rude awakening later.
If any of this is going on in your house, remember that the earlier you intervene with your child, the better. The sooner you tell your child that what he’s doing is not acceptable and give him the tools he needs to behave differently, the better.
90-Day Addiction Rehab for Boys
Licensed Adventure-Based Addiction Treatment
Is your son struggling with addiction or life-controlling issues? The Teen Challenge® New Adventure Treatment Center provides specialized drug and alcohol addiction treatment, plus optional ongoing educational improvement, and behavioral therapy. We work with the whole person, solving the underlying initial causes of addiction, getting these addictive substances out of the boy’s system, and giving enough time, encouragement, and training to ensure the habit doesn’t return. We offer a complete solution for teenage boys ages 14-17.
"NO WARRANTY" LEGAL NOTICE: While independent outcomes studies have shown very high recovery rates for indiviuals in our programs, we cannot guarantee recovery for any particular individual. Recovery and future abstinence from addicting substances and the effects that such substances may have on the individual or their life, actions, or their future are entirely dependent on the individual and how well they apply the principles we have taught them. We are an educational institution, and how the individual in our program learns from what they are taught and modeled here, is totally up to them. Individuals who stay the full term (until graduation) have much better long-term recovery from addicitons than those who do not.