Signs a Teen Is Out of Control

The teen years are generally known to be chaotic; rebelliousness, unyielding behavior and ornery behavior are commonplace. Although teenagers need the opportunity to display their individualism and express their feelings, parents need to differentiate between "normal" teenager behavior and signs that a teen is out of control 12.

School Difficulties

Signs of an out-of-control teenager can present themselves at school 1. Slipping grades, lateness or avoiding class altogether suggests a problem. If the teenager constantly "forgets" to do his homework, is unable to wake up in the morning for school or talks about quitting school, his behavior might be out of control 12. Behavioral issues such as the inability to get along with classmates, having to stay after school, getting suspended or being expelled also indicate a problem.

Substance Abuse

Sometimes a teenager's behavior is so out of control that parents are unable to manage him at home 12. According to, chronic substance abuse is an example of this extreme behavior 1. If you discover that your teenager is abusing drugs or alcohol, quickly intervene so he does not pose a danger to himself, your home or the family. Signs of substance abuse in a teenager include:

  • personality changes
  • initiating arguments
  • red
  • glassy eyes
  • deteriorating grades
  • poor attitude
  • fatigue
  • according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Problems with the Law

Getting in trouble with the law is an obvious sign that your teenager is spinning out of control 1. Regardless of the nature of the incident, whether it involves getting stopped for erratic driving, disturbing the peace or getting arrested, these behaviors can quickly spiral out of control.

Violent Behavior

Violent behavior is a significant warning that your teenager is unable to manage his feelings. Violence directed at his family, friends, co-workers, classmates, school staff or strangers not only indicates out-of-control behavior, it might also signify psychological problems that require professional help 2. In addition to directing violent behavior at others, your teenager might direct it at himself, too.