The 7 Most Common Behavior Problems in Teens

Teens aren't supposed to follow all the rules all the time.

As your teen begins to develop her own identity, she'll likely test the limits and break the rules sometimes. Most often, a little minor rebellion is part of normal teenage development.

It's important to respond to minor behavior problems swiftly, however, before they escalate into more serious problems. Here are the most common teenage behavior problems and the healthiest strategies for dealing with them. 

When teens get caught doing something wrong, they often lie for two reasons; to avoid disappointing people and to avoid the consequences of their choices. 

Lying can also be a way for teens to express their loyalty to their friends. Your teen may lie to a friend's parent to cover for her when she sneaks out of the house. Or, your teen may deny that her best friend has ever experimented with alcohol. 

And most teens are good at rationalizing the reasons they lie. Whether it's to prevent someone from being mad or it's to get their way when they know they're doing something wrong, lies often come with excuses. 

Make it clear to your teen that you expect her to be honest. Be a good role model too. Don't lie about your teen's age to get the cheaper price for the buffet and don't make up ailments to get out of social engagements. 

When you catch your teen lying, instill harsher consequences. Make it clear that telling the truth would lead to less serious disciplinary action. 


School Problems

It's hard to deal with misbehavior at school because you aren't there to witness the problem. And your teen's version of events is likely to be different than the report from the teacher.

Whether your teen is arguing with a teacher or refusing to do his work, it's important to get involved. Set up a meeting with the school to learn what's going on and work together as a team to address behavior problems.

If detentions, suspensions, and being sent to the principal's office aren't working, you might need to add some at-home consequences. Only allow your teen to have privileges, like a smartphone or time with friends, if he's behaving responsibly at school.

Risky Behavior

Your teen's brain is still developing, so she won't always consider the scope of her misbehavior until she's paying the consequences. Teens believe they're invincible and they struggle to manage their impulses. Unfortunately, that combination can be really dangerous at times.

Whether your teen is experimenting with drugs, or she's driving recklessly, don't chalk it up to, "kids will be kids." Intervene right away and remove your teen's privileges.

Your teen's risky behavior may be showing you she can't handle as much freedom as she has been given. Tightening the reigns for a while may be in order.

If your teen's behavior is serious, seek professional help. Talk to your teen's doctor or meet with a mental health professional. 

Arguing, backtalk, and disrespect may come and go in waves during the teen years. Your teen may be snarky one minute and loving the next.

Sometimes it stems from a desire to be rebellious, and at other times it can signal a problem with the parent/child relationship. 

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 she talks back. 

Studies show rude teens turn into rude adults. So it's essential that you address the behavior in a productive manner now, so your teen communicate better as an adult.


Sometimes teens swear as a way to feel older or as a means to fit in with their peers. At other times, it's a matter of shock value and to test the reaction of their parents.

The way you respond to swearing should depend on your values. Some parents find it best to just ignore it. Giving swear words too much attention may make your teen swear more.

Other families set clear rules about swearing. And whenever that rule is broken, there needs to be a consequence. A swear jar or a short-term loss of privileges may be helpful.


Whether your teen has started made it a habit to come 15 minutes late or he tried sneaking in an hour past curfew, most teens try to test the limits once in a while.

Take curfew violations seriously. Establish a behavior contract and have your teen sign it. Make the consequences for curfew violations clear ahead of time.


Acting Entitled

Many of today's teens lose sight of what's a privilege and what's a right. They act entitled to smartphones, endless attention, and ongoing luxuries.

Make it clear to your teen the privileges, including electronics, must be earned. If your teen isn't doing his chores, getting his homework done, and following the rules, don't allow him to have his privileges. 

Reduce entitlement and narcissism by making it clear that the world doesn't revolve around your teen. Get your teen involved in helping others and solving problems and you'll reduce his sense of entitlement. 

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