One minute your child is playing happily on the swings in the park, the next minute they’re acting out and wanting to rebel against anything childlike. Teenage rebellion is a very natural part of adolescence, but one that can be scary for parents. We take a look at the psychology behind it and what you can do to make life easier.

The image of the rebellious teen is not a new one. All through cinematic history and pop culture we’ve seen teens rebel with riding motorbikes, smoking cigarettes, sneaking off to parties, or simply developing a smart attitude when it comes to talking to their parents.

If you’re the career of a child going through these formative teenage years, it can almost seem like hell on earth. Your once pleasant kid who rejoiced in the simple things in life like swinging on the swings or playing board games with the family has been replaced with someone else – a rebel with a cause.

Psychology and other medical studies have proved that this rebellious stage does, in fact, serve a purpose for the growing brain, but if you’re living in a house with one of these teens it can seem more like a nightmare. So, what level of rebellion is normal and why exactly do they go through this stage? With some clarity on the subject you might be better equipped to deal with your non-conforming and moody teen, and be able to give them the space they need.

What Is Teenage Rebellion?

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What Is Teenage Rebellion?


Rebellion can happen at any age, but the most common time that we see this occurrence is in the teenage years. There are two forms of rebellion common at this age, a rebellion against fitting in socially (a non-conformity) and a rebellion against figures of authority (parents and teachers).

This all occurs as your child is beginning to develop some individuality from their parents and family, and looking for a way to get their own unique personality. Rebellion occurs by becoming independent of what their parents like or want, or from interests they once had, and in turn, this creates disapproval in the parents.

There are different types of rebellion, and while most of it harmless, there is the potential for dangerous behavior to occur. A child might begin to rebel against their own self-interests that they had in childhood or they might rebel against certain relationships, perhaps with parents or their other siblings.

The Psychology Behind Rebellion

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Even if you feel as though your child seems to be going through their rebellious stage, just remember that it’s something almost every family deals with. There have been numerous studies on the subject that show it’s a completely normal part of growing up and something that most children have to do as a way to transition from childhood to adulthood.

Studies performed by USC where brain scans were used showed that rebelling was a natural way to separate from their parents, marking a journey into adulthood. The same study also showed that children who were more likely to engage in risky behavior when rebelling where more influenced by their peers than by parents, showing just how important their relationships are with friends.

The Things Your Teen Might Be Rebelling Against

It’s usually pretty obvious when your teenager has started to rebel, and it’s an unmistakable attitude that you’ll get from them. Here are some of the areas that kids usually rebel against, and what it can mean.

  • Self

    This might sound confusing at first, but it’s completely normal for a teen to start rebelling against their own self-interests. It may be things that they used to enjoy doing like riding horses or playing at the park or wearing certain clothes that they now see as childlike.

  • Authority

    This might sound confusing at first, but it’s completely normal for a teen to start rebelling against their own self-interests. It may be things that they used to enjoy doing like riding horses or playing at the park or wearing certain clothes that they now see as childlike.

  • Peers

    This can occur when a teen is no longer interested in hanging out with their group of friends and may look for a new one. They might find that their old friends are too immature or still interested in childlike things, and it can lead to a rebellion.

What’s Normal With Teenage Rebellion?

When it comes to teenagers, labeling anything as ‘normal’ can be hard to do. These behaviors are all common when your child is going through their teenage years and starting to rebel, so there’s usually nothing to worry about if this is what you’re experiencing.

  • Change in attitude

    This can occur when a teen is no longer interested in hanging out with their group of friends and may look for a new one. They might find that their old friends are too immature or still interested in childlike things, and it can lead to a rebellion.
  • Loss of interest in activities

    This can occur when a teen is no longer interested in hanging out with their group of friends and may look for a new one. They might find that their old friends are too immature or still interested in childlike things, and it can lead to a rebellion.
  • Withdrawing from family time

    This can occur when a teen is no longer interested in hanging out with their group of friends and may look for a new one. They might find that their old friends are too immature or still interested in childlike things, and it can lead to a rebellion.
  • A new taste in music and clothes

    This can occur when a teen is no longer interested in hanging out with their group of friends and may look for a new one. They might find that their old friends are too immature or still interested in childlike things, and it can lead to a rebellion.
  • Pushing boundaries

    You tell them to be home by 9.30pm and they walk in the door at 10 pm. You ask them not to do something and they do it anyway (while looking you dead in the eye). It can be almost like having a toddler all over again who is just learning how far they can push things.

When To Worry

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Knowing when your child’s behavior has crossed the line from simply acting out and trying to gain independence to something that can be harmful or fatal is key to being a responsible parent. Any behavior that you witness that might hurt your child is usually something you need to take action against, but there are ways to go around it.

Look for signs of anything worrying like smoking, doing drugs, drinking alcoholmeeting with strangers from the internet, or engaging in sexual activity. All of these can be extremely dangerous for even adults to engage in, so image the potential for harm when teenagers start getting involved in these behaviors.

If you find that your child is doing more than just breaking curfew or talking back to when you give them orders, you will need to sit down and speak to them about your concerns. There may be the need to ask for help from a professional who deals with these types of adolescent behaviors and try to get help before things get out of control.

Tips for Handling Their Newfound Rebellious Attitude

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As long as your child isn’t doing anything that puts their life at risk, the best attitude is to step back and let them work on growing their newfound independence. Keep an eye on the friends they’re making and who they might be hanging out with as this can have a huge factor on their behavior and activities.

Though it might be tempting to let your child go completely and allow them to break their bond with you for a short time, the experts warn that this can be dangerous. It’s important to always maintain a relationship with them and insist that even though they are going through this new stage in life you will always be there as support.

Try not to take things too personally during these formative years, as their behavior can sometimes be shockingly bad. Name calling, bad attitudes, and seemingly aggressive behavior are a result of their surging changes in hormones and you can rest assured that they will come out the other side with a greater appreciation for you as a parent and your relationship with them.

A Normal Path for Teens to Take

Teenage rebellion is part and parcel of growing up, and even if you can’t remember it (or just don’t want to admit to it) there’s a good chance that you were a bit of a rebel in your teen years as well. Try to remind yourself that everything your teen is going through is normal and it’s their way of subconsciously separating themselves from you as they try to forge a new, independent personality and become their own person.

While it can be confronting or even sad to see your child move out of their childhood days and into an opinionated and independent teenager, it’s something that everyone has to go through. As long as they aren’t engaging in risky or harmful behavior, these are all stages that we must experience in life in order to become functioning and healthy adults.

 

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