Behavior Problems in Teens

Common Behavior Problems Parents of Teens Face

As teens begin to assert their independence, some common behavior problems can begin to arise. While misbehavior like cheating, talking back and lying may not seem like much to handle, they can escalate quickly by aiding trouble teen behaviors like teen drug use or open defiance and violence leaving your teen out of control and you feeling helpless. Here is a list of common behavior problems parents of teens face and what you can do about them.

Teen Behavior Problem #1: Your teen tells lies.

Mother and daughter having an argument
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Lying is a behavior teens use as a means to an end. They get caught doing something wrong, they do not want to pay the consequences, so they lie. Or your teen wants something, doesn't want you to know about it, then they lie.

They will lie to you, their teachers or their friends' parents for their friend. At times, it may seem like even they believe the lie. This is because teens don't always see telling a lie as a real mistake or misbehavior. They often explain away lies by reasoning them away, placing the blame of the lie on the parent. Teens will say, "I lied because I knew you would yell at me!"

Some teens even see lying as a way to keep their parents from becoming too stressed, as if the lie is for your benefit. I've heard more than one teen express this type of sentiment: "I can't tell my mom that - she'd freak!"

It is important for parents of teenagers to impress upon them that lying is not appropriate at any time and not a behavior your family condones. 

Teen Behavior Problem #2: Your teen misbehaves in school.

Behavior Problems School

It is very hard for a parent to deal with things that happen at school because you are not there to witness the problem, parents don't often find out there is a problem until it is too late or you disagree with how the problem is being handle by the school officials. But, as the parent of the teen who is having a behavior problem, we have to step up and do our best to fix it. 

Teen Behavior Problem #3: Your teen is engaging in risk taking behaviors.

Risk Taking Behaviors Teens

It has become a biological fact that teens engage in risk-taking behaviors like dating the bad boy and sending inappropriate messages via cell phone or Facebook to teen drug use and promiscuous sexual behavior. Your teen's brain is still developing, so they don't always understand the scope of their misbehavior until they are paying the consequence. Because that consequence can and sometimes does include their parent getting them out of jail or raising a grandchild, it behooves a parent to keep their teen from going too far with their risks by setting up rules and limits, being clear with your messages and using consequences

Teen Behavior Problem #4: Your teen argues, is disrespectful and talks back.

teen anger management techniques angry girl teen behavior
Figuring out why your teen is arguing is sometimes difficult. Getty Images

There are many reasons that a teen will get angry, argue with and talk back to a parent. Here a few:

  • The teen has something to say, it is important to them and the parent isn't listening.
  • The teen has learned that if you argue, you will get out of whatever trouble they are in as their parent will give up.
  • The teen has a lack of respect for the parent.

Listen to your teen actively, follow through with consequences even after the argument is over and talk to your teen about the lack of respect they are showing you when they talk-back. 

Teen Behavior Problem #5: Your teen swears - a lot.

Teen Swearing Common Behavior Problems
Denise D. Witmer

Swearing is a bad habit that is learned through modeling and normally learned well before the teen years begin - even though you may have not witnessed your teen swearing until they were older. If you are unable to get your teen to stop swearing all of the time, you can insist that they not swear in front of you. Give your teen a clear message and set up a consequence. Then be consistent and follow through each time your teen swears. If they have a job, a swear jar where a teen donates a quarter for every swear word works very well. 

Teen Behavior Problem #6: Your teen is late for curfew.

Teen Curfew Common Behavior Problems
Eric O'Connell / Getty Images

When you set up a curfew, use a parenting contract and get your teen to sign it. Then hold your teen to the time limit no matter what. Teens can be good at thinking up excuses, do not buy into them. Your agreement is that they will be home by a specified time, if they are not, they pay the consequence of not going out the next night, etc. Again, a clear message and constancy are the most important keys to getting your teen to do what needs to be done. 

Teen Behavior Problem #7: Your teen acts entitled.

17-year-old teen boy entitled teen behavior
Seventeen-year-old teens like to look older. Photo by Emery Co Photo.

Parents who give in to their teens tend to have their heart in the right place, they just allow their teen to control it. You know if your teen is acting entitled when they are telling you how things are going to go instead of the other way around. Teens who act entitled fail to learn resiliency and other life lessons. 

Parents, Take it One Step at a Time

When it comes to dealing with common behavior problems and teens, you can't be on top of it all of the time. You cannot control what they do. But one step at a time, you can teach them the correct way to handle the world around them. You can influence their decisions. Good luck!

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