Ways You Can Take Control of Your Teen Acting Out


When your teenager starts to act out and misbehave, it can be challenging to know how to handle him and the situation. When he was younger, he likely responded to timeouts, restrictions, and other punishments. It’s a little bit different to try and manage a teenager. Now, he is more likely to slam doors, roll his eyes and ignore you.

His behavior can take a toll on you, your relationship, and your family as a whole. You may have tried everything that your friends and extended family members have suggested, but to no avail.

There are several things that you may not have tried. Combining proven methods and professional help can help you to take control back.

What is normal behavior for a teenager?

You know that it’s normal for teens to act out in some ways. They are arguing more, slamming doors, and generally being defiant. Teens can be moody and unpredictable, but there is a difference between being a moody teenager and being an out-of-control teenager.

Expected teen behavior may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Unexpected and explosive anger
  • Acts of rebellion
  • Withdrawing from family
  • Focusing more on friends
  • Being sneaky or otherwise secretive
  • Changing hairstyles or getting more piercings

If any of that sounds familiar, the odds are good you have a teen who is simply leaning into this phase of development.

Out-of-control behavior in your troubled teen may include:

  • Violence towards family members and others at school
  • Drugs use and alcohol abuse
  • Willfully breaking laws
  • Being self-destructive and self-harming
  • Failing grades at school

Any radical changes in your teen should be considered red flags, mainly if he has been showing the signs of depression and other mental illnesses.

Work to find out the underlying cause of changed behavior

When you have a troubled teen acting out, it’s generally for a specific reason. To take back control of your home and the safety of your family, you need to find out what that reason is.

Start by asking yourself a few important questions:

  • Is he being bullied at school?
  • Has something changed within the family?
  • Is someone abusing or otherwise harming him at home?
  • Is school overwhelming him?
  • Have his friendships changed?
  • Is he struggling with anxiety or depression?

These are just some of the concerns that could be at the root of his changed or increasingly bad behavior. It could be any of these, a combination of these, and perhaps something else you haven’t even considered.

Communicate, without judgment

Getting to the root of the problem is going to take strong communication skills. It’s important to learn these skills and hone them to benefit your relationship with your teen.

Easy ways to improve communication skills:

  • Talk, with honesty
  • Listen, with intent
  • Don’t lecture or patronize
  • Ensure a safe and judgment-free space

It’s not an easy transition to make between a lecturing parent and an open communicator. It can take a significant amount of work and effort.

Control your emotions, remain calm

There’s nothing quite like the way that your teenager can make you feel when he is acting out. You may experience anger, stress, and frustration among other emotions. You could find yourself engaging in fights with your teen that turn into screaming matches. While it’s understandable that you could find yourself getting to this point, you must learn to regulate and manage your emotions.

When emotions run high, so does the potential for escalation. You could say things that you don’t mean at the height of the argument. You could also inadvertently send your teen off to act out in different ways as he rebels in anger.

How can you control your emotions and your anger?

  • Step back when you feel your emotions getting the better of you.
  • Take a break from the arguments and focus elsewhere.
  • Take care of your needs, with self-care that addresses what you need to unwind.
  • A part of self-care should involve therapy, meditation, and possibly medication to help address your mental wellness.

Don’t mirror your teen

Your troubled teen is likely going to be confrontational whenever he sees an opportunity to do so. You do not need to attend every argument that your teen invites you to. It’s tempting to argue and yell when he is disrespectful and rude.

Instead of engaging with him and mirroring his bad behavior, firmly correct his behavior and walk away. Spending time arguing is only going to escalate the situation and raise your blood pressure.

Remember that it’s not always about you

It’s very easy to take his bad behavior personally. When your teen is slamming doors, being disrespectful, and is refusing to spend time with the family, it’s very easy to take it personally. It makes sense that you would, particularly if your child once loved spending time with you and was much more pleasant to spend time with.

When a teen is acting out, much of it is normal and expected behavior for a teenager. Most teens are incredibly self-involved and find it difficult to see anything outside of their perception of reality.

Instead of responding to their bad attitude and taking it personally, reinforce the rules you’ve established for them and the household. Remind your teen that he is going to be held accountable for his attitude and his behaviors.

You deserve respect

Certainly, there are times when it is best not to engage with your troubled teen, and there are times when you need to speak up. If your teen is physically or verbally abusive, you need to remember that you do not deserve disrespect.

Is he swearing at you and other members of the family?

Is he being destructive and physically harming his siblings?

You have to step in and step up to curb this behavior. No one deserves to be disrespected, and no one deserves to feel unsafe in their own home.

Establish healthy boundaries

There’s a difference between rules and boundaries. Certainly, it can help to implement firm rules about the things that are important, like:

  • Homework
  • Chores around the home
  • Behavioral expectations
  • Internet use
  • Curfews

Ensure that there are consequences attached to behaviors that buck the household rules. Consequences will help your troubled teen to take ownership of his poor choices.

Boundaries are more about establishing the limits for the behaviors that you find acceptable and unacceptable.

What to do when your troubled teenager is out of control

How do you deal with your teen’s out-of-control behavior? Remember that we all make mistakes. It’s unreasonable to expect perfection from your teen when he’s still working out how to respond to the world around him.

If your teen is struggling with choices and is acting out in unacceptable ways, it’s important to seek out professional help in a timely manner. Therapy can prove helpful for every member of the family.

Consider a residential treatment center to help your troubled teen find his way back from bad choices and behaviors. At Help Your Teen Now, we can connect you with the resources that can best benefit your family.

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