Reckless Behavior in Adolescents

During their adolescence, many teenagers push the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Some even take it to extremes, engaging in reckless behavior such as drinking alcohol or taking drugs. While it is important for parents to show love and support for their teens, they should also explain the clear dangers and consequences of reckless behavior.


Adolescents want to be independent, and they are eager to develop their own identity outside their family. Unfortunately, for many teens this desire will involve reckless behavior. The teenager's brain also has a part to play in their risky choices. According to an article in "Discover" magazine by Carl Zimmer that summarizes research on teens' brains, adolescents are attracted to reckless behavior because of their developing brain 2. This development makes them more likely than adults to participate in and enjoy risk-taking situations.

Types of Behavior

According to BBC Health, some of the most common reckless activities for adolescents include staying out late, drinking alcohol, taking drugs and smoking. Smoking and drinking are popular choices because they are seen as an introduction to adulthood and a way for adolescents to assert their independence, according to the Mayo Clinic. Adolescents are also influenced by their parents and peers. If their parents or peers engage in reckless behavior such as frequently drinking alcohol, teens may feel that this is acceptable.


According to child development website KidsHealth, most teenagers might not like having rules and expectations such as having to come home at a certain time. However, teenagers do often respect these rules, and clear rules help them know that their parents care about them. Rules can also encourage responsible behavior. The Mayo Clinic advises parents to talk with their children openly about the dangers of reckless behavior, such as drinking alcohol 4. It is also essential to remind teenagers about the consequences of their behavior.


Many teenagers will experiment with reckless behavior as a part of growing up, but some children are in particular danger. BBC Health says that many adolescents who become dependent on hard drugs have personal problems such as low self-esteem, depression and family problems. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry warns that teenagers who may be abusing drugs or alcohol can go through emotional turmoil such as low self-esteem and sudden mood changes. Health and fatigue issues or a negative attitude toward school can also pose warning signs for parents. If your teen is displaying consistently worrisome behavior, seek advice from your doctor.

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