When teens behave badly, it can feel infuriating! Parents are bound to feel frustrated when their teens act defiant, withdrawn, aggressive, or unmotivated. You might feel that your teen is ungrateful, entitled, disrespectful, or that he/she hates you.
Studies have determined that the human brain isn’t fully developed until mid to late twenties. The part of the brain that is still developing during adolescence is the prefrontal cortex. Since the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed, teens rely on another part of the brain called the amygdala to help with decision making. The amygdala is associated with “fight or flight”, emotions and impulses. The common response for a human when the amygdala is active is aggressive or passive behaviour. As a result, behaviour can be somewhat irrational during these times.
When teens acts out, the pattern of poor behavior is often covering up deeper feelings of pain, fear, depression, or loneliness. Assuming your teen is just “a bad kid” can cause your teen to feel misunderstood or even more alone with whatever difficult emotions they are coping with, which deepens their reasons for more bad behavior.
Here are some possible reasons why your teen may be acting out:
Teens who are being bullied, either in person at school or online via social media, will express their anger, frustration and helplessness by misbehaving at home.
Some teens act out because they are responding in a normal way to a situation that has upset them to the point where they are unable to manage their emotions. “Trauma” does not necessarily mean a catastrophic event, such as abuse. It can also be an event or experience that causes them to feel helpless or hopeless. When teens don’t know how to manage their big emotions in positive ways, they spill over into misbehavior.
3. Mental Health Condition
More and more teens are suffering from depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health conditions. If left untreated, mental health conditions will definitely cause troubled behavior.
4. Learning Disability
Another common cause for misbehavior may be frustration due to undiagnosed or untreated learning disabilities. When a teen cannot succeed in the classroom despite their best efforts, they will feel frustrated and angry.
Teens are under an inordinate amount of pressure to succeed and to fit in. They face peer pressure from their friends, academic pressure from their parents, and cultural pressure to succeed in school, sports, and extracurriculars.
6. Exploratory Risk-Taking
Adolescents are trying to figure out who they are and how they want to behave in life. As a result, they often are rebellious and engage in risk-taking behaviors that allow them to test family, social, and personal boundaries. They also seek attention and want to impress their peers.
7. Family Strife
Conflict within the home can also cause anger and frustration, which result in a teen’s desire to either withdraw or lash out.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the possible causes behind teens’ poor behavior, but it does offer some ideas for what might be behind the misbehavior.
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