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How Does a Teenager Rebel Against Parents?

By Kimberly Dyke ; Updated April 18, 2017
Peer pressure can push young teenagers to smoke, drink or experiment with drugs.

Perhaps sneaking cigarettes, wearing leather jackets and driving fast were ways to push the envelope for teenagers in the past, but modern kids are bombarded with greater pressures and opportunities to rebel against their parents. While not all teens are criminals in the making, many struggle between social pressures, personal convictions and maintaining their parents’ expectations.

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Arguing with Parents

One of the most well-known ways that teenagers rebel against their parents is by arguing. Saturday night curfew, rules about tight clothes, or even expectations such as keeping a bedroom floor clean can launch a teen into a rampage. Physically, the part of the brain responsible for thinking and judgment is growing during the teen years, according to Tufts University professor of child development David Elkind, PhD, and children begin to form their own ideas and opinions. Parents can take heart that while it seems like their teen is arguing in circles, he is actually practicing a new skill to prepare for adulthood.

Piercings and Tattoos

Mohawks and weird clothes were once the main outward evidence of teenage rebellion, but modern teens can be much more extreme. Permanent tattoos and body piercings are a sign of being hip, independent or indifferent to conventional society. Unfortunately, permanently scarring the body can also be a red flag for underlying deviant behavior or mental health issues, according to TeenHelp.com. Parents should try to talk with children who are planning on getting piercings or tattoos about the potential risks of infection and of limiting possible future employment because of their appearance.

Sexual Exploration

Your child may go against rules you have set about dating to assert her independence, not realizing that the repercussions could be lifelong. Kids as young as 13 or 14 years old are often pressured to experiment with sex, according to Dr. Elkind, risking unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.

Substance Abuse

Another act of rebellion among teenagers is substance abuse. While many kids may experiment with alcohol or drugs out of curiosity or defiance, not all rebellious teens will develop an addiction. WebMD assures parents that just because their teen tries drugs one time does not mean that he will continue to use them on a regular basis.

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About the Author

Kimberly Dyke is a Spanish interpreter with a B.A. in language and international trade from Clemson University. She began writing professionally in 2010, specializing in education, parenting and culture. Currently residing in South Carolina, Dyke has received certificates in photography and medical interpretation.

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