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How to Deal with Teen Rebellion

“When I get big, I’m going to get a tattoo.” My son was probably 5 ½ when he declared his love for “ink”. He declared his love for many things like that over the years.

Fleeting things he had seen on television or in a friend’s home. He knew they were off limits and he accepted that because he respected his father and I and listened to our warnings and honored the restrictions.

How to Deal with Teen Rebellion

Fast forward 10 years and you will find me huddled in the floor of my closet, crying. It seemed as if suddenly, out of nowhere, our 15 year old had grown deaf and was disregarding all that he was taught. Late evenings, long days, sleepless nights. They all ran together. Why did he turn so swiftly away from the path we thought was also his heart’s desire? After all, doesn’t he love us? Doesn’t he care?

Fast forward another 6 years and you will find that I’m happily helping him plan a wedding and I enjoy sitting with him frequently on the front porch talking about his life and plans for the future… The path we knew he had chosen. So why did we have to go through such a trying time? Let’s see if we can break it down a bit and find some encouragement.

What is rebellion? All children will eventually spread their wings and fly the coop! Teen rebellion is typically a rocky pocket of time during that developmental period where teens question the guidance and direction of everyone…parents, local authorities, teachers, even God.

How can I identify rebellion?
If you ask a dozen parents what the warning signs of teen rebellion look like, you will surely get a variety of responses. Knowing your teen and watching for specific behavior changes will help you avoid long term issues. A few common signs of rebellion are:

– Seeking to control situations, regardless of the cost.

– Desiring to be accepted, even if it means behaving in ways that are not allowed in your family.

– Struggling for independence.

– Seeking attention.

– Anger

– Disregarding rules that were previously followed.

– Being argumentative or disrespectful.

So now that we know the problem. How do you deal with a rebellious teenager? Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what to do when it seems that everything you do makes the situation worse! Here are a few tips for working through the tough times.

– Set clear boundaries and do not stray from them. Kids need structure. You can’t expect your children to obey if they don’t understand the rules.

– Ask questions. What’s the basis for their anger? Is there another way to express their frustration?

– Give your teen space to get away. Consider having a code word for when an argument needs to be tabled for a cooling off period. (Our word is “peaches”. How mad can you be if you have to look at your mother and say, “Peaches, mom!”

– Take note of your own anger level.

Find good resources. I am a fan of Focus on the Family. They have a great series on teen rebellion. Another good resource is your local pastor or a family therapy counselor.

One day you are their world, the next you are stifling. The best advice anyone can give is to remain consistent, remain engaged, and pray. Pray for your child’s heart and pray for protection while the new individual that God is growing is discovered.


Kay Orr
Kay Orr

Kay Orr is a Jesus follower, wife of over 25 years to Chris, a MomStrong mom to five, and Founder and CEO of Love of Logistics. She believes we are all warriors in a battle to guard our children in a world that demands their every attention.