Teenage Rebellion: Probing Into the Causes and Ways to Handle it

Tagore, in one of his quaint short stories, has poignantly drawn a parallel between a teenager and an unloved stray dog; the point of assimilation strikingly apparent in the helplessness in which both are doomed. Akin to the dog, a teenager in most cases becomes a misfit in his family; his pounding discomforts are a source of perennial nuisance; he is scolded unreasonably at times, his emotions undermined and his barking stamped as rebellion.

For every concerned mother, the prospect of a rebellious teen can be disheartening; more so when the seemingly harmless rebellious behavior, like yelling or talking back, degenerates to the most offensive afflictions like smoking or taking drugs. Lost amidst the hustle and bustle of routine life, we are at a loss to dig out what constitutes the rebellious acts or what are the stages involved in its growth.

This article seeks to dissect this potent issue. Let’s start by understanding the meaning of being a rebellious teen.

What is teenage rebellion

It is the manifestation of a set of contrary behaviors or disobedience with an inherent penchant towards defiance or flouting of rules within a family, or outside, such as schools.

Types of teenage rebellion

There are two common types of teenage rebellion –

A) Rebellion of non-conformity or refusal to adjust socially in schools or other institutions; exercised against school rules or mates, and involves purposeful distancing, bullying or teasing.

B) Rebellion of noncompliance or refusal to abide by adult authority; delineates intentional law breaking and being insolent.

Is teenage rebellion normal

The question should not be about how to stop a rebellious teen, as not all rebellions are hazardous. Your daughter’s rigid demand for sporting a tattoo on her back is just a reflection of her attempt to be in tune with her peers. Rebellion is, in fact, an uncalled for stepping stone largely contributing towards the maturation of human personality; it is the unfolding of the basic human trait, the impulse to question the multi-faceted world.

Why are teenagers rebellious: The causes

Understanding the psychology: Adolescents go through major brain developments during this transitional phase of their lives. The brain prunes all that’s unimportant, retaining only the necessary things in the back portion, leaving its prefrontal cortex or the decision-making region to be upgraded at a later time. Consequently, teenagers bank on the part accountable for emotional outbursts and instinctive behavior. Such back to front brain development unlocks the key to your rebellious son or daughter’s immature, illogical or impulsive behavior.

Moreover, the steadily developing brain gobbles up any new change or information like a sponge, and the youth is led astray to experiment with different looks or newly found passions such as drugs.

The hormones too, have a say: The onset of puberty that stains teenage with a hoard of hormonal changes, result in marked alterations in appearance. The budding of breasts in a teenage girl or the sudden change of tonal voice in a teenage boy usually triggers him/her to indulge in constant comparisons with peers, seeking out means to ape them and spurn so long followed childhood traditions. It can additionally result in mood swings and wild emotional blasts.

In search of a new identity: “I am not a child anymore. So do not treat me like one” seems to be the far cry of intrepid teenagers out to explore their strengths and weaknesses while wading through the perilous sea of self-evaluation. The need to assert their beliefs and values is overbearing, often leading to rejection of safe norms, and acting against their parent’s advice.

Unhealthy domestic atmosphere: Regular observation of parental squabbles or the blemish of divorced parents incurs the germs of low self-worth and negativity in a teenagers mind. The absence of an empathizing father or mother in times of their emotional crisis turns them aggressive, uncompromising in rebellion, and in certain unfortunate cases even self-destructive. Equally wrapped up or overtly disciplined parents may also mar an inquisitive teenager’s questioning spirit. To whom will the unsettled youth turn to for solace if the parent remains either too busy or too hostile?

Fear of failure: As the teenager clambers the ladder of adulthood, he initiates a likeness towards belonging to a distinct group of friends, and most importantly remaining loyal in their pursuits. Failure to comply with their choices crops up a host of unthought-of apprehensions, such that of losing his image, of being proved worthless, of not garnering enough guts. Objectionable activities, such as attraction towards drugs, alcohol, and even crimes in friends are normally the crux of interest that spurs rebellions.

Delayed adolescence: This is usually the case with overprotective parents – parents willingly disposed to treat their teenage son or daughter as a baby. Nurtured by such permissive parents, these adolescents mature late, and indecisiveness often turns them habitually surly, and grumpy. Brazenly defying norms imparts a sense of freedom to them.

What to do with a rebellious teenager: Dealing with the problems

Be less a parent and more a friend: Isolation is one of the formidable barriers that a teenager builds as means of self-analysis. There may surface a thousand questions concerning abrupt body changes, or attraction towards certain hitherto ignored issues that he/she may feel shy to discuss. Being a supportive buddy, lend a patient ear to all your son’s or daughter’s queries. Indifference on your part is fatal and may pave the way towards unexpected reckless, rebellious behavior.

Exercise flexibility despite being firm: Your child is blossoming from larvae to a beautiful butterfly. Let’s not make the process unnecessarily difficult. Help your kid to take risks but provide ample guidelines and set limits so that they know where to draw the line. For example, encourage if your child is bent on practicing baseball every evening, making sure that he returns at the told time. Rebellion can loom up against the low expectation of parents.

Prohibit judiciously: You may be vexed at your daughter’s persistent bidding for late night parties, but vehement restriction only intensifies the desire, with the expected outcome being either an open rebellion or secret hideouts. Candidly point out the reason behind your constraint, offer alternatives and finally wrap up your justification by expressing your concern, anxiety, and faith in the fact that she would definitely understand.

Help to make the rebellion healthy and creative: Your son may be facing a conflict regarding whether to attune to the wishes of his senior mates in activities like ragging and bullying, or refrain from it at school. Encourage the positive thinking so he starts believing in himself, being emboldened to venture against the tide. You can also appreciate his endeavor through verbal praise or other means such as dispatching a sweet note saying ‘my brave son’ in his lunch box.

Inculcate respect in your interaction with the teen: By the time a teenager steps into middle adolescence (14 to 16 years), the stings of puberty expand from mere peer groups to romantic friendships. Then every illogical wish, fancy, or claim dictated by the cherished soul mate seems attainable.

It might be frightfully agonizing to confront your lovesick son or daughter’s piercing allegations, and temper tantrums; however, acknowledge the sensitivity of their age and calmly address the issue with respect.  Extreme controlling can invite the risk of depression and severe mental illnesses.

For late teenage rebellion: The teens rambling around the age group of 17 to 19 years end up rebelling the very authority they had endorsed. It is like the teen knows callous drinking in parties might create havoc, but they can hardly handle peer pressure. What can be the solution? Leave the teenager to face the consequence and learn from the mistake.

Going by history: rebellious youth behavior of the 1950’s and 1960’s

We, by dint of our inborn nature, seldom embrace change with gracious arms. When change assumes the shape of rebellion, we are hardly prepared to handle it tactfully. Puzzled by its elevation, we try to nip it from the bud; not realizing that it can be harnessed but not wiped out. What if your gentle boy or girl is strongly reluctant of facing the challenges of life; what if he/she suffers from perpetual indecision and is a constant companion of your apron strings?

In fact, if the history of teenage rebellion is traced, it will be noticed that the very word wasn’t coined until the 1950’s. The post-World War II scenario featured parents who, being materialistically secure, wanted to bestow their kids with a richer and ‘no tension’ life. The youngsters, in turn, managed to evolve a space for themselves after practically leading a wild, carefree life of massive reveling in parties, sporting weird hairdos, and clothing trends, often adopting the rock ‘n’ roll as the representative music of their generation. These were changes that the parents opposed as they had never anticipated these before.

However, in the 1960’s, the youth rebellion was more prominent in the protest against the Vietnam war under charismatic leaders such as Mario Savio, the rampant use of hallucinogens such as LSD, and finally the outpouring of the angst hearts trough the revolutionary music of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. Teenage discontent has been featured in many great films right from Coppola’s “The Outsiders” to Lehmann’s “Heathers”.

Hence in conclusion moms, don’t fret with when the rebellion will end. Rather try treating your upstart little gentlemen or lady as tricky dishes that test your cooking skills. By a careful administration of practices, you have to garnish their spicy rebelliousness, so that they are delectable and exude a pleasant aroma at home and when out in the world.

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