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The Oxford English Dictionary defines rebellious as an unwillingness to “obey rules or follow generally accepted standards of behavior, dress, etc.” Adolescence is a time in a young person’s life to experiment, learn about one’s likes and dislikes, individuate, and begin to absorb essential life skills that may serve a person far beyond his or her teenage years. It is also a time of great physiological growth and emotional turmoil. Pushing boundaries and testing limits are natural and to be expected from teenagers. Further, it is developmentally appropriate for a teenager to rebel at different times throughout adolescence. Certain risky or rebellious behaviors in which teenagers may partake or exhibit are not necessarily done so with malicious intent, but rather may simply occur due to the use of poor judgment, or in direct connection to brain development. Navigating the teenage years can often feel as complicated and difficult for a parent of a teen as it does for the adolescent. As parents, it is imperative to help teach your children to make safe and smart decisions, and although arduous, this includes learning to dealing with rebellious teenagers.

What To Do

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to an adolescent exhibiting rebellious behaviors. Experts assert that “teenagers tend to demonstrate rebellious behavior due to a combination of hormonal, developmental, societal, environmental, and even technological reasons… [which] lead to behaviors that challenge authority, demonstrate independence, promote arguments, and seek attention, among others.” Parents offers suggestions to effectively deal with rebellious teens, some of which include the following tips:

  • Be open and inclusive: offer times to have family meetings where ideas can be expressed nonjudgmentally.
  • Co-create family values: discussing values and make it a point to involve your child in developing clear family values can help your child foster responsibility and cultivate his or her own personal values and moral compass.
  • Establish boundaries: teenagers must begin to learn the correlation between their actions and subsequent consequences. Maintaining healthy boundaries and illuminating natural consequences when they are crossed is essential.
  • Remain consistent: be consistent with your rules and structure for your home.
  • Implement daily check-ins: maintain open lines of communication with your teenager and carve out time each day to check in.

Although adolescent rebellion can be challenging, it is helpful to bear in mind that it is a typical part of the teenage years. The process of separation from parental norms can be rocky, but also encourages a child to develop their own sense of individuality and paves the way to becoming an independent young adult.

For Information and Support 

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


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