What to do when your teen is rebelling

Teens rebel for many reasons. Some rebellion is natural, as teens adjust to their place in the world. “The key is knowing your teen and identifying the specific rebellion going on,” says Ken DeBlock, Shelterwood Director of Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery. “Where is your teen emotionally? Is your teen just figuring it out? These questions can help you get to the root of the rebellion.” Discover these tips to help you navigate your teen’s rebellion.

What to do when your teen is rebelling:

1.) Shift your mindset.

As your teen develops autonomy, you have an opportunity to shift into a consultant role as a parent. “Making all of the decisions for them can build walls between you and your teen,” Ken explains. “Help your teen make smart decisions independently.”

When your teen rebels, it is also important to remember your own emotional triggers. For example, Ken says, if your parents gave you a very strict curfew as a teen, you may perceive your own teen pushing curfew as a rebellion, when it’s actually a relatively normal way for teens to rebel. Look at the information objectively and make sure you’re not making a decision from a place of hurt.

2.) Communicate consistently.

Consistent communication is essential in your relationship with your teen. When your teen rebels, keep open lines of communication. Be a safe person who your teen can confidently ask about what is going on, and offer love and support in return. “If you and your teen never talk, it’s harder to know the real cause for the rebellion,” Ken says.

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3.) Utilize a support system.

During a rebellious season, many parents tend toward secrecy because they are ashamed of their teen’s behavior, Ken says. “You do not have to do this alone,” Ken says. “Reach out to a trusted friend, counselor or pastor. Get a trusted opinion from an outside source. They can help you make a decision from a smart place and offer an objective perspective.”

4.) Pick your battles.

Ken recommends parents determine the open-handed items and closed-handed items for their family. Which areas are up for compromise or conversation? Which boundaries are firm and non-negotiable, no matter what? Whether it is curfew or drugs, Ken acknowledges many parents struggle to decide what is okay and what is not. “Pick your battles based on your values,” Ken says. “Determine where there is room for conversation and where there is a hard boundary line.”

5.) Parent from a place of love

Parenting from a place of love means recognizing that rebellion is part of your teen growing up, Ken says, and not your teen’s anger towards you. “The rebellion is not about intentionally defying you or upsetting you. It is about your teen trying to figure out life and their place in the world.”

“Even though some of their decisions might impact your life in a negative way, do not take it personally — then you’re making decisions from a place of hurt instead of a place of love.”

As a parent, if you feel you’ve been pushed to a place of emotional unhealthiness, consider Shelterwood. Our residential treatment center program is designed to be a safe space for your teen, a place of real hope, real heart change and real restoration for struggling teens. Our goal is to bring heart change to teenagers and restoration to families. Learn more about how Shelterwood can restore your teen here.