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Solutions to Teen Rebellion

by Tanya Brown

Rebellion stems from your teen’s desire to be independent. This phase, which usually ends in early adulthood, can be difficult for parents because they fear that their teen will make destructive choices. Some degree of rebellion is normal during adolescence, according to a 2009 article in "Psychology Today," so you might not be able to stop your teen from challenging your authority. However, you can take some actions to minimize your teen’s risk of engaging in activities that are dangerous, unhealthful or unlawful.

Set Behavioral Expectations

Behavioral expectations serve as the foundation for communicating with your teen about his actions and assessing your teen’s behavior, according to a 1999 article on the University of Minnesota Extension website. Parents who set behavioral standards and praise their teens for behaving appropriately during difficult situations encourage positive actions from their teens. Set expectations through rational conversation before problems arise to assert your authority in a calm, positive manner. Be clear about which behaviors are acceptable and which are not when it comes to the tone of voice your teen can use when speaking to you, the types of activities he’s allowed to engage in and his actions toward relatives, teachers and other members of your community.

Choose Your Battles

According to youth development specialists Stephen Russell of the University of California and Rosalie J. Bakken of the University of Nebraska, adults who insist on controlling every aspect of their teen’s behavior might encourage defiant outbursts and extreme rebellion. Avoid scolding your teen about issues that do not impact her education or pose a threat to her safety or the safety of others. Give your teen a bit of leeway when it comes to her hairstyle, clothing, taste in music and other choices that foster independence. If your teen asks you to bend your rules, remain flexible by making exceptions in certain circumstances, such as extending your teen’s curfew on weekends or special occasions.

Follow-through on Punishments

Punishing your teen when he misbehaves not only asserts your authority, but it also holds your teen accountable when he makes poor choices, allowing him to experience the connection between actions and consequences. Establish a set of rules with your teen, and be clear about the repercussions of not following them. Always administer the appropriate punishment, even if it inconveniences you. This encourages your teen to take you seriously and increases his likelihood of making better choices in the future.

Lead by Example

Teenagers pay close attention to the actions of their parents, notes author, psychologist and TV personality Dr. Phil McGraw. Parents need to model the behaviors they want their teens to display. Disrespecting your spouse, yelling at grocery-store cashiers, arguing with your parents or displaying road rage shows your teen that you lack self-control. That can minimize his respect for you as an authority figure. Your teenager will also notice whether you drink a lot of alcohol, take drugs or choose poor associates. Parents are their teen’s greatest role models, so you must lead by example to encourage positive behaviors.

About the Author

Before starting her writing career, Tanya Brown worked as an eighth-grade language arts teacher. She also has a background in nursing, with extensive experience in urology, neurology and neurosurgery clinics. Brown holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and is pursuing her master’s degree in educational psychology.

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