Top 7 Reasons for Teen Misbehavior

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From My book ” Parenting Your Out of Control Teenager”   Top 7 Reasons are:

1)  Unclear Rules

One of the biggest reasons your teen may be out of control is that you don’t have a clear, written contract with him or her. Your rules and consequences are verbal, open to interpretation, or made up as you go along. For example, you may declare a rule of “no disrespect” but fail to specify what your teen does or says that is considered disrespectful. Your teen, who is not only literal-minded but very concrete, now has the perfect loophole and can argue, “You never said that swearing was disrespectful.” (I call this “literal disease.”). (For examples of a written contract, view our Sample Contracts).

2) Not Keeping up with your Teens Thinking

Out-of-control teens can defeat you and make you back down through a special gift called enhanced social perception. Your teen can run through as many different scenarios in their mind as necessary to find a loophole in your rule or consequence.

3) Button-Pushing

Another major factor in teen misbehavior is “button-pushing.” If your teen doesn’t want to do something you ask, he or she often will start pushing your “hot buttons” to make you angry or frustrated. For some of you, these hot buttons are swearing or rolling the eyes. For others, it is statements like “I hate you,” “You’re not my real father,” or “I don’t have to listen to you.” Your teenager has an uncanny ability to know exactly what your buttons are and how to push them.

4) Teenager Drunk with Power

When your teenager is able to control the mood of your household and your life through extreme behavior, he or she takes on the power of an adult without being developmentally ready. At ages twelve through eighteen, your teen’s time and energy should go toward being a kid, going to school, playing sports, dating, getting a job, and preparing to leave home. Instead, your out-of-control teen uses thatsame energy to figure out how to stay in control of your household and get one over on you or other adults.

5) The Pleasure Principle

Why do so many of us eat junk food, smoke, or never exercise, even though we know that doing so may eventually lead to obesity, lung cancer, or a heart attack? Because of what’s called the “pleasure principle,” living for the moment or for what gives us immediate gratification rather than thinking about our future.

This is the same way your out-of-control teenager thinks nearly all of the time. He or she cannot see past tomorrow, let alone next week. Many teens have come to expect instant gratification. This is why guilt trips, logical reasoning, and traditional punishments often fail. Your punishments or lectures are not strong enough to compete with the immediate pleasures that come with bad behavior.

6) Peer Power

Today’s peer groups have a tremendous hold on your teen’s heart, mind, and soul. If it is a positive peer group with good morals and values, your teen can thrive. But if the group has poor values and exhibits negative behavior, your teen is likely to get more and more out of control.

7) Misuse of Outside Forces

The misuse of outside forces is a final reason for your teen’s misbehavior. In today’s world, more and more of us are handing over our teenagers to outsiders like counselors, psychiatrists, hospitals, boot camps, or medication to “fix” them. What may initially look like the answer, however, can quickly become a double-edged sword. Even though your teen may change miraculously in a boot camp, detention center, group home, or counselor’s office, often the same problems start up again soon after he or she returns home, comes off probation, or stops seeing the counselor. The reason is simple. Outside experts did all the work to turn your teen around, not you. Therefore, there is no reason for the teen to respect or obey you back home.

If these reasons above feel familiar in your household, consider setting up an appointment to talk with a professional counselor, who can help you navigate your teen or child’s behavior. Feel free to contact us to begin getting help.

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