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Helpful Tips for Controlling an Out of Control Teenager

Teenagers are notorious for being combative, contrarian, and secretive.

One of the many jobs of a parent is to help a child learn how to be independent so they are able to mature into a contributing member of society. As such, there are countless nuanced lessons that parents are faced with navigating. It is helpful to be mindful of the fact that teenagers are riddled with angst, growth, internal and external pressures, excitement, struggles, surging hormones, and more. Any parent can appreciate the notion of “picking your battles”, especially when it comes to teenagers. Teenagers have a newfound need for autonomy, which can be expressed poorly (i.e. appearing out of control). While teenagers may be struggling through their adolescence, effectively supporting a teenager as a parent can sometimes feel like an impossible feat. 

What To Do?

Dealing with an out of control teenager can be incredibly frustrating and although it is not uncommon to respond in a reactive fashion, it will most effectively be handled when done so delicately. Instead of attempting to constantly control your teenager, perhaps try to guide them towards making better choices. Every family dynamic is unique, and helping an out of control teenager shift his or her behaviors may require implementing a variety of strategies, some of which include the following examples: 

  1. Modeling Behaviors: some teenagers are ill equipped to emotionally integrate difficult experiences. They will look to others to see how similar situations are handled. Modeling healthy behaviors can provide a teenager with the ability to see how an adult responds and/ or reacts to external influences.
  2. Consistency: consistency is key when it comes to out of control teenagers. With both a teenager’s internal and external world continuously shifting, it is imperative to remain consistent in your parenting tactics. Adding any unnecessary confusion can increase a teenager’s anxiety, which can manifest as behaving out of control. 
  3. Expectations: make sure your teenager knows and has a clear understanding of what is expected of him or her. Although teenagers often behave impulsively, transparent expectations could encourage a teenager to take pause before intentionally violating them.
  4. Boundaries: hold strong boundaries, and make sure they are honored and enforced. In addition to respecting boundaries, a teenager bearing witness to and even co-creating healthy boundaries can help a teenager learn his or her own limits, and how to create and hold boundaries; a skill that will behoove them in future years. 
  5. Empathize: The teenage years are highly emotional, and developmentally teenagers lack both logic and well as the emotional ability to react rationally. Every adult was once a teenager, try to remember what it felt like and before immediately reacting, take a breath and respond according. 
  6. Seek Professional Help: there are some issues that may arise with your teenager that may simply be out of a parent’s purview. Professionals that specialize in issues surrounding teenagers and adolescence can provide pointed guidance, and there is no harm in obtaining professional assistance, especially when it is for the betterment of your child. 

Every teenager is different, and may respond distinctly to various tactics. In many cases, seemingly uncontrollable teenagers are simply young people overtly expressing their need for help. It is highly common to feel the urge to control your child, especially when you see they are about to make a mistake. However, learning how to navigate mistakes is essential to a child’s growth and development, and fundamental to the maturation process. Providing your child with the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them can be an invaluable lesson. Of course, in situations where a teenager may be in danger it is imperative to intervene, as safety must be the top priority.

For Information and Support 

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of 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 for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. 

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