Is My Teenager’s Behavior Normal?

Normal Teenager Behavior
It is natural for parents to seek assurance that their children are behaving normally or as expected for their age group. Likely, it is a holdover from closely watching infants and young children to ensure they were hitting developmental milestones. And for parents of teens, seeking reassurance that their teenager is “just being a kid” can help.

However, there are some behavioral red flags that parents should watch out, ranging from truancy to substance abuse. These issues are often what bring parents to us here at Help Your Teen Now, asking if their teenagers’ behavior is normal.

If you are unsure if your teen is behaving within normal expectations for their age or if you should be more concerned, let’s look at what “normal” behavior looks like and what should be a warning.

What Is Considered “Normal” Teenage Behavior?

Normal can be a broad term, especially when talking about how a teenager should behave. However, there are some things parents can expect to see and shouldn’t be overly worried about if their teenagers take the correction.

For instance, say your fifteen-year-old son has started to act out a bit, getting up late for school, talking back, and becoming more sloppy with their appearance. These small instances of pushing established family rules and boundaries are to be expected from teenagers and are often tied to their developing sense of independence. As long as you provide correction and your teen responds appropriately by adjusting the negative behaviors, then the acting out isn’t an indicator of problematic future behavior.

However, it’s when your teen refuses correction and plunges further into troubling behaviors that you should be concerned about.

When Teen Behavior Crosses Into Problematic And Troubling

If you are looking for more concrete signs that indicate that your teen’s behavior has crossed into the troubled and problematic territory, here are some examples you can watch for in your teen.

Severe Mood Swings

Teens are experiencing a range of new hormones and changes, so mood swings are inevitable and part of those tough years. But severe mood swings are a different story. When teens oscillate between feeling content, happy, engaged, and excited, only to flip to more negative and potentially dangerous moods, parents should be concerned.

It is especially concerning if there is no medical source for the severe mood swings your teenager is experiencing, and if your teen does not respond to traditional talk therapy.

Constant Lying

Most teenagers will lie at some point or another. Most of these lies in the long term are harmless, though lying should be discouraged anyway. However, the problems arise when your teen lies constantly, even when there is no need to hide anything.

Lying can spiral into a serious problem, as it can back your teen into a corner where they will have to confess to many lies if they get into deep trouble and need your help. Some teens may be too scared to come clean and find themselves in serious, life-threatening trouble that they feel they can’t talk about due to their constant lies.

Risky Sexual Conduct

Part of the hormonal surge that teens experience also leads them to want to explore sexually as well. Your family rules about physical intimacy outside of marriage need to be understood and reinforced to help protect your teen.

For teens that do get involved in risky sexual conduct, some of the consequences can be sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), teen pregnancy, and exploitation.

Aggressive Behavior

Both teenage boys and teen girls can start to exhibit high levels of aggressive behavior. Not only can this aggressive behavior manifest in verbal and emotional abuse, but some parents and siblings of these angry teens have also experienced physical abuse.

Running Away From Home

Staying out late and breaking curfew, while not desirable behaviors are normal teenage behavior that can be corrected with boundaries and consequences for rule-breaking. However, when your teen starts to run away from home, staying away for multiple days or even weeks, this is a sign of very troubling behavior.

When your teenager’s behaviors fall into these problematic and dangerous areas, and they continue to not respond to discipline and therapy, it may be time for more intensive intervention.

Some parents may be tempted to go the military school or boot camp route, but those are far from the best options. There are more immersive troubled teen programs—such as therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers—that combine therapy with strict discipline, academics, and life skills learning.

To talk to one of our parent advocates about your troubled teen program options and what would be a good fit for your teenager, feel free to contact us.

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