Some teens seem to be in trouble all the time and, according to St. Mary's College of Maryland professor J. Roy Hopkins, author of "Adolescence: the Transitional Years," it is a period when teenagers are easily influenced by peers. Illinois State University professor of education Laura Berk said she believes that although antisocial and troubling behavior reaches its peak during the teen years, once a teen reaches adulthood it usually rapidly declines.
As children become teenagers, they are eager to develop their own sense of identity and often take risks or get into trouble as a way of experimenting with the adult world, according to Berk. According to the BBC Health website, risk-taking behavior comes something of an addiction, and parents must let the teen know such behavior is not acceptable and possibly dangerous. Teens, like younger children, look to their parents for guidance on what is right and wrong behavior.
Teenagers want to fit in with groups of friends to gain acceptance and identity, and Berk said she believes that a friendship group can modify a teenager's behavior. If your teen is hanging around with a group that gets into trouble for cutting class or engaging in antisocial behavior, your teen might join in to gain acceptance and feel part of the friendship group. Although you won't be able to choose your teen's friends, Berk suggests encouraging them to join friendship groups that are prosocial will help keep your teen stay out of trouble.
A direct link exists between trouble-makers and family stability, according to Hopkins. Teenagers from broken homes or those who have difficult relationships with their parents, are far more likely to get into trouble than those from stable homes, Hopkins says. If you can create a positive and relaxed atmosphere and take an interest in your teen's life, they are more likely to feel comfortable and accepted. Berk adds that if a teenager's parents take an interest in education and attend school events, their teen is less likely to get into trouble and more likely to succeed at school.
Many teenagers get into trouble because of low self-esteem or falling behind in school work, Berk says, and educational consultant Bill Rogers says many teenagers get into trouble because of negative labels given to them by parents and teachers. If you make statements such as, "You are always getting into trouble," your teen might feel being a trouble-maker is part of his character and act accordingly.
- Adolescence: The Transitional Years; J. Roy Hopkins
- Child Development: Laura E. Berk
- BBC Health: Risky Behaviour
- Behaviour Recovery: Bill Rogers
- Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images