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What Is Considered Normal Teenage Rebellion?

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

Rebellion is a hallmark of the teen years. It’s such a classic part of being a teen that you see it in all forms of entertainment to help communicate that a character is a teenager. But sometimes, parents who are in the trenches with their teens may wonder what is considered normal teenage rebellion and when they should be worried.

Strange hairstyles, copying others’ attitudes and ways of speaking, trying out new fashions, and other expressions of personal style are common signs of normal teenage rebellion. But when a teen crosses over to destructive behaviors, they leave behind the normal rebellion and often earn the label of a troubled teen.

Normal Teen Rebellion Features Identity-Seeking Traits

A key feature of teenage rebellion is the search for identity. Teens looking to figure out who they are may engage in nonconformity rebellion. Rather than do what they perceive as the norm, nonconforming, rebellious teens will try out things to see if that is where they want to be.

Another common form of normal teenage rebellion is noncompliance with authority. The authority figure is often parents, though school and religious institutions can also be rebelled against by teens looking to find their place in the world. This type of rebellion is often more disturbing to parents, as it leads to conflict with their teen. But it’s not until the rebellion slips over into self-destructive, even deciding something like rejecting the religion of their parents is not uncommon with teens. However, some teens engage in dangerous behaviors in their rebellious time.

When It Is More Than Simple Teenage Rebellion

Relatively harmless acts of rebellion, such as choosing to do sports over more studious activities or become a vegetarian, should be considered healthy expressions of self. But some teens struggle more with their quest to define themselves from their parents and can fall in with other troubled teens that are engaging in more dangerous behaviors. Some signs that things have moved beyond normal teenage rebellion are:

  1. Abusing substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, and illegal drugs.

  2. Frequently running away to get their way and take control of parents.

  3. Engaging in risky sex, which will often result in further trauma and rebellion.

  4. Expressing suicidal ideation and self-harming.

  5. Delinquent behaviors such as truancy, shoplifting, fighting, and being arrested.

How Parents Can Address Out-Of-Control Rebellious Teens

For teens who are truly out-of-control and engaging in self-destructive, rebellious behavior, sometimes the best alternative is a therapeutic boarding school for troubled teens. In the safe environment of a therapeutic boarding school, teens can receive immersive therapy, attend classes to catch up with peers, have careful guidance, and learn appropriate coping methods.

Before you reach the point of sending your teen to a therapeutic boarding school, there are a number of things you can try to address an out-of-control teenager.

  1. Set firm boundaries – Before rule-breaking occurs again, it is time to sit your rebellious teen down and layout firm boundaries, such as curfew, behavioral expectations, and other rules. That way, your teen can’t feign ignorance when they flout the rules and understand the consequences of not maintaining the family boundaries.

  2. Keep your communication loving – It can be tempting to snap and get angry with a rebellious teenager. But often, teens engaging in rebellious behavior are confused and in emotional turmoil. By maintaining your position as a loving and supportive parent—backed up by how you communicate with your teen, it will be easier for them to reach out to you when your teen is ready to change.

  3. Allow for natural consequences – Sometimes, having to live with the consequences of their actions is the best way to help your teen learn that their rebellion is ill-advised. For instance, say your teen is arrested for shoplifting. If there is an option to either pay a fine or have them do community service, let your teen perform community service rather than you paying for their crime and absolving them of responsibility.

  4. Attend family therapy – Working with a family therapist can be a great way to bring the whole family together and iron out issues that can be difficult to talk about. With a professional to act as a mediator and guide through tense discussions, the whole family can reconnect and work together to help a rebellious teen.

If you are considering a therapeutic boarding school for your teen, you may want to consider Sundance Canyon Academy. While attending our therapeutic program, teenage boys work with specialized staff to address their various needs as well as attending classes taught by licensed, professional teachers.

To learn more about Sundance, our students, and the services available through our program, feel free to contact us by phone or email. We look forward to helping your son back onto the right track and helping your family heal together.

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