Behavior Problems in Adolescents

By Victoria Thompson
Work with your teen to control her behavior problems by listening and being understanding.
Work with your teen to control her behavior problems by listening and being understanding.

The teen years can be a tumultuous time for both teen and parent. Teenagers experience many developmental challenges and yearn to assert their independence. Parents must remain proactive to tackle behavior problems and support the child as he learns to control his behavior and emotions. Teens need space to act as individuals, but teens should also realize that negative behaviors have repercussions.

Hanging Out Late

Teens test rules to see if parents will enforce consequences. One test is breaking curfew. Allow a grace period of 10 minutes, but anything past that requires a consequence. Your teen has to know that breaking curfew is a serious infraction. Remain consistent and give the consequence. Your teen will not take your authority seriously if you waver with the punishment. Make sure the punishment fits the "crime;" for example, do not let your teen go out with friends for a week or two.

Being Overly Dramatic

When a teen wants to fit in with those around her, even the slightest issue is a big deal. These issues may not seem important to a parent, but be careful not to trivialize them. Finding humor in a teen's emotions could cause her to resist confiding in you, if she mistrusts you. When she slams the door and shuts you out, settle her down and listen patiently. Let her know that the problem concerns you, as well, and try to see the situation through her eyes.


Lying can become a habit that teens use to stay out of trouble or to fit in with peers. If teens begin lying about risky behavior, parents must address this behavior immediately and seek necessary resources, suggests Megan Devine, of Let your child know that she can talk to you without you overreacting. Teens want you to treat them with respect, and to not yell at or lecture them. Doing so will only cause her to tune you out and hide important information.

Talking Back

Teens believe that rude behavior and talking back are acceptable since they are prevalent on television. "As a mild, relatively safe form of rebellion, back talk appeals to teens' desire to feel independent and adult,” states Charlotte Latvala of Talking back can have negative effects when done in school and with future employers. Parents must correct this behavior by making it necessary for their teen to correct the language and apologize. Overlooking your teen's back talk sends a negative message that this is acceptable behavior.

About the Author

Based in North Carolina, Victoria Thompson has taught middle school for the past 15 years. She holds a Masters of Education in middle school instruction from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She teaches English daily to English as a second language students.