Aggressive Behavior in Teenagers

It is easy to overlook your teen’s aggressive behavior by attempting to rationalize what you’re witnessing. You don’t want to believe that your teen is mean, a bully or that he is treating others with disrespect. However, ignoring the behavior he is exhibiting or mistaking it for something else can be harmful to his social development. While aggressive behavior is normal from time to time, you don’t have to expect this type of aggression on a regular basis. It is important for you to recognize the different types of aggressive behavior your teen might exhibit so you can provide him with the help he needs.

Verbally Aggressive Behavior

A common type of aggressive behavior your teen might exhibit is verbal aggression. According to, your son’s verbal aggression is defined as words, insults or threats designed to hurt others 2. For example, your son might spend his time verbally assaulting his peers by calling them names, demeaning them and making them feel badly about their own personalities, looks, intelligence or family situations. This type of aggression may not be as obvious to you as other types of aggression, but that doesn’t make it any less serious.

Passive-aggressive Behavior

According to an excerpt from “Keys to Parenting Your Teenager,” by Dr. Don Fontenelle, Ph.D., reprinted on, your teen may utilize passive-aggressive behavior to elicit a reaction from you 1. Your best bet is to ignore her when she does this. For example, if you ask her to switch the laundry from the washing machine to the dryer and hear her talking to herself about how unfair you are or how badly she is treated at home, ignore her. Avoiding a confrontation, argument or discussion about her passive-aggressive behavior is the best way to get her to stop once she realizes it’s getting her nowhere.

Physically Aggressive Behavior

When you think of biting, hitting, kicking and fighting, you might think of your toddlers or preschoolers before you think of your teen. However, according to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center of Herkimer County, your teen may resort to this type of physically aggressive behavior. According to the same document, these teens are more likely to become involved -- or are already involved -- in other destructive behaviors, such as drinking, drug use and sexual behavior.

Indirect Aggression

You may or may not realize what indirect aggression is, but it’s something many people do. According to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, indirect aggression is something your teen engages in when she makes the decision to gossip, spread rumors or tell her friends, family or peers not to be friends with someone else. This is a tricky type of aggression because most people take part in it. You probably even use indirect aggression from time to time, such as gossiping with your husband about the affair in which two of your coworkers are engaging. By doing this, your teen might be under the impression that this type of aggression is not a big deal.