In this lesson we are going to explore teen rebellion. In it you will learn:

  • What rebellion actually is
  • How you as a parent might have played a role
  • A step-by-step guide on how you can turn it around
  • The difference between anger, rebellion, and being out-of-control

If you have not done so already, make sure you have taken our FREE foundation program The Neutral Parenting Formula: A Blueprint For Raising Successful Teenagers that will really help you get the most from this lesson because some of the concepts discussed here may not make as much sense. You can access it here for FREE through the end of 2012. Afterwards the program will cost $997.

Take A Moment

At any point in your teenage years did you ever rebel? Did you see any of your friends rebel? Why did you or they do so? What sparked it? Take a few moments to think back to that time.


In addressing teen rebellion, it is important to get to the root cause of what it actually is because the way most parents define it is not entirely accurate. Many people define rebellion as a teenager being angry and trying to go against the grain. While these are symptoms of rebellion, they’re not the root cause of it. If you want to get to the root cause of why teenagers rebel, then you have to ask “Why?” Why are so many teenagers pissed off? Why do teenagers behave in destructive and erratic ways?

It is also important that you understand that rebellion is phase two of anger. Generally speaking, a teenager will become angry first. If their anger is not resolved or addressed, then they act out by rebelling. It is the first stages of them trying to address it but they do not know how to do so in a constructive manner. If their rebellion phase is not neutralized, then they will become out-of-control.

So what exactly is rebellion?

Rebellion is when anyone (regardless of age) is told whom and how to be in any particular situation without being included in the decision making process. Rebellion is when you force your beliefs and definitions on to your child and expect them to create a life they may not want. It’s when we’re “controlled” and so the natural affect from this is rebellion. It’s like a rubber band; you can only pull so hard until it pulls back.

Teenagers generally rebel against their parents, school, society, religion, or anything that is structured in a manner that “forces” them to be something they are not. But since this course focuses on the parent-teen relationship, I will address teenagers rebelling against their parents.

If your teenager is angry and rebelling, this is what they’re saying to you:
“I’m pissed off because you keep trying to control me”.

But let me do a better job of communicating to you what they really want to say:

Mom and/or Dad,

Thank you for caring about me. I appreciate the fact that you’re doing the best you can in trying to help me. But because you have a fear-based agenda in how you are approaching me, it hurts my feelings. I would really appreciate it if you would just accept me as I am, stop trying to control me, and then try to support me in what it is I’m trying to do. I understand that I do need to follow some rules and that you need to set boundaries for my own good. But I would also appreciate it if you would allow me to make my own mistakes and stop approaching me from a fear-based perspective. All this does is make me more scared and this is why I react the way I do. Will you please stop projecting your own fears and agenda onto me? Will you please stop controlling me and let me live my life?

Can you “hear” your child now? This is what they are really saying to you but do not have the skill set to do so.

As a parent, you need to understand that there is nothing you can do to “fix your kid”. The whole idea that parents have in trying to control the situation doesn’t work. All this does is push them away, makes them lose respect for you, and creates friction and conflict. You need to embrace the idea of accepting wherever your child is at and do the best you can to guide them along their process. Because just like you’re on your own process of maturing and figuring things out, so is your teenager.

Having An Agenda

Because you are creating a neutral space for your child to explore life, you need to let go of any agenda you may have. Only then will they begin to listen to anything you have to say. When a teenager or young adult hears anyone in authority speak to them with an agenda, they can smell it a mile away. As soon as they sense this, it sends them into a fight or flight mode because it is not providing them a neutral space for them to just be. That is what rebellion really is.

In fact, you have this same capability in you as well. It’s just that as you have gotten older, your ability to fight has weakened and because you need to “pay the bills”; your focus has been more on survival. But I am sure at some recent point someone has tried to force his or her beliefs or way of thinking on you and I am sure you did not like it. Of course, you did not rebel as a teenager would. But this is why it is important that you remember that your teenager is just starting to get a grip with their emotions so they just don’t have the skills to be calm and see all angles of what is really happening in a rational way.

Boot Camps: Hitting Rock Bottom

It breaks my heart to see so many of these military and boot camps thriving with business. These are just parents who have given up and thrown away their kids like dogs and cats to animal shelters. “I have no idea what to do so let it be someone else’s problem”. Below I outline a step-by-step process for how to address this but I want to point out that the two main reasons why boot camps work is because:

1. It provides the space for the teenager to get out their aggression through physical labor.
2. It gives them structure and discipline that helps them create a new pattern in their life.

These are things you can do as well without having to spend tens of thousands of dollars. But it does require your time and effort. While military and boot camps can help with some kids who are dealing with anger and rebellion issues, it sends a clear signal to them that you have given up and don’t know what to do. Sadly, it also sends the signal that you don’t want or love them. Another thing you should be aware of is that boot camps teach discipline through the use of fear, control, and domination. This is not a healthy and balanced way to learn discipline.

As I use the Dog Whisperer as an example, “troubled teenagers” are just the out of control pit bulls and Rottweiler’s. They got there because of their owners (parents), not because they were born this way. This is not about blaming or saying it’s the parent’s fault. This is just showing you that this is the extreme type of “reflection” your child is teaching you. They’re saying, “Look at how you have (or have not) dealt with me all my life. Look at the life and environment you have created for me. You have created such a negative environment and not given me the type of love or attention I need, now I have to be sent away for someone else to try and deal with me”.

If you really pay attention to what a boot camp does, all it is are people who spend time with your kids giving them structure and attention while creating an environment in which they’re supported to act in healthy ways (albeit they do it in an angry and militant way). The amount of teenagers in these types of camps is just one of many examples as to how many parents would rather buy their way out instead of spending the time to raise their kids on their own.

If you are at your wits end with your teenager, then chances are you have considered a boot camp (and probably did not enroll them because you did not have the money). Either way, if you’ve gotten to this point it’s a clear reflection of the fact that you have not put the time into being with your teen and guiding them along their process. If they’re so out-of-control it ‘s because they’ve never learned any boundaries nor did they have a positive role model to look up to. This is where you really need to be honest with yourself about issues you may have and heal them first before you try and take on the issues with your teenager. I cannot be specific as to how to address this since each one of you will have different issues you’re facing and need to heal.

Focus On the Root Cause

As with any issue you address with your teenager, you must focus on the root cause. The reason anyone will rebel is because they are upset and do not know how to deal with their emotions. If your teenager is rebelling, then they are angry for a reason and you need to focus on this reason, not the behaviors. Before any healing can take place, your child needs to get their frustration out of them. Once they have, then you can work on your healing process.

Here is a step-by-step action plan:

Step 1 – Release the Emotions
Help your teen in some way to get their emotions out on the table and get them out of their system.

Step 2 – Neutralize the Situation
Once their emotions are out, you need to create a calm and centered environment where a new direction can take form.

Step 3 – Redefine the Relationship
Depending on whether they are rebelling against you, school, or society, you need to help them redefine their relationship in a win-win manner so that they can move forward with their lives in a healthier way. For example, if they are rebelling against you then you need to understand why they are upset at you and then redefine your relationship addressing their concerns. If they are rebelling towards school then you need to help them come up with a new solution as to how they will become educated if they do not like the school they are in. Whatever they are rebelling against, you need to help them redefine their relationship with it so they do not act out with destructive behavior.

Step 4 – Be Consistent
In the beginning stages, your teenager will be very “raw” with their emotional state and because they are moving in a new direction, anything can and will set them off. It is important that you help create a consistent environment where new patterns can be laid down that are fair and reasonable for all involved.


Sergio & His Mom

Dear Parent,

I am on a mission to help heal this planet because I truly believe that so much of the trauma and drama our society endures stems from the fact that as youth we did not learn how to address our emotions, solve our problems, and discover our authentic selves. If you find any of this material beneficial, please support this school and our message by taking the following actions below.


– Sergio Diazgranados

  • If you have not done so already, make sure you have taken our FREE foundation program The Neutral Parenting Formula: A Blueprint For Raising Successful Teenagers that will really help you get the most from this lesson because some of the concepts discussed here may not make as much sense. You can access it here for FREE through the end of 2012. Afterwards the program will cost $997.
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editor September 24, 2012


In this lesson you are going to learn why so many youth are defiant and how to address the emotions of an angry teenager. We are going to cover:

  • Why so many teenagers are angry
  • What the root cause of their anger is
  • What to do if your teenager is angry with you
  • How to keep your teenager from becoming a troubled teen
  • Why it is important that you take an honest look at how you are communicating with them
  • The importance of using their anger as an opportunity to teach them about their emotions
  • A step-by-step guide on how you can handle this challenge without hiring a therapist or counselor
  • & Much more

If you have not done so already, make sure you have taken our FREE foundation program The Neutral Parenting Formula: A Blueprint For Raising Successful Teenagers. This will really help you get the most from this lesson otherwise some of the concepts outlined may not make sense. You can access it here for FREE through the end of 2012. After this the program will cost $997.

Take A Moment

But before you begin this lesson, I want you to think back to the last time you were angry. What made you angry and how did you express it? Did you yell or scream? Did you want to start a fight? Or did you internalize it hoping that it will go away on it’s own? Before you can help your teenager address their anger, it is important that you take an honest look at how you do the same for yourself.


While there may be some crossover between the teen rebellion lesson and this one, I wanted to separate the two because in all practical terms, rebellion is an extreme stage of anger. At times, this emotion is so powerful and scary that most of us shy away from it because we don’t know what to do with it. Because we view anger as a bad thing, we want to sweep it under the rug and never look at it (until it builds up to the point where it explodes and sends us in a downward spiral).

This module is important because if you look at our world now, you will see that we are one giant mass of conflict where most of us are so angry that we don’t know what to do. We don’t get along with other countries, other states, our neighbors, friends, relatives, co-workers, and so on. Anger is everywhere and yet we wonder why teens are so angry?

Simply put: Our teenagers are reflecting the world around them. And what I mean by this is that our world does not know how to handle anger and address their emotions in a calm and centered way. So why would they?

angry teenagerThe Emotional Rollercoaster

Your teenager is on an emotional roller coaster right now because of the intensity of challenges he or she is dealing with. Because many kids don’t know how to handle stress and conflict, they internalize it and it manifests into anger, resentment and then rebellion.

As your child’s guide, you need to help him or her express their emotions in a constructive way. Your child needs to get their anger out or it can completely change how they grow up in the world. The first thing you need to understand is that anger is ok. Let me say this again: anger is ok. Not only is it ok, it’s your friend because it shows you that something is out of alignment. It’s a signpost that says, “Hey, I don’t like this!”

The challenge arises when we don’t know how to face and resolve anger. The main reason that most people don’t know how to do this is because we judge anger as something bad. We only see the negative side of it so we want to ignore it and sweep it under the rug.

When your teen is angry, the first thing you need to do is understand where this anger stems from:

1. Are they angry with someone?
2. Are they angry with themselves?
3. Are they angry because of a situation that happened?
4. Are they angry with you?

If the situation is one of the first three, let them know that it’s ok if they’re angry and that you understand. Acknowledge their anger and let them know it’s ok. By acknowledging their anger they won’t feel bad or wrong and it relieves some of the weight and tension off their shoulders because you have taken some of it on. Also, by acknowledging their anger and letting it be ok, you neutralize the situation. You take the charge out of it and that can help to calm it.

Acknowledge Their Anger

You can say something like: “I can understand why you must feel so angry. If I were you, I would be angry too. It sucks huh?”

What this does is provide them a neutral space to feel it and because you are not invalidating them, they will be able to process it right then and there instead of internalizing it.

Releasing Their Anger

Help them get it out. Tell them to shout, scream, or yell. Punch a pillow. If dad is around let dad be a punching bag and go at it until all the energy is out. Anger is real energy and it needs to land somewhere like a lightening bolt. Be creative in how you help your child face it and let it out.

What if my teen is angry with me?

If they’re angry with you, then you have to dig a little deeper to resolve the issue. Remember you don’t want to take it personally. You now have to be mature for the both of you because they have to be able to vent, and you have to listen without reacting regardless of whether they’re right or wrong. This is what is meant by being a “neutral parent”.

More importantly, you have to be able to decipher what it is they’re actually saying. You have to see through the anger and emotions to figure out what’s underneath it. They’re not going to be able to speak to you in a calm and rational way so you have to be a detective and search out the core truth of their information (I know, sounds easier on paper right?).

Then you need to have the patience to transform their anger toward you into something constructive. The best way of doing this is by letting them say everything they have to say so that they can release the tension inside. Then give them some space so they can relax and calm down. Once they have calmed down, you can try and resolve whatever issue they’re angry about.

Changing Your Approach

It should be noted that if your teenager is angry with you, then they are angry because of “how” you have been developing your relationship with them and “how” you have been approaching your parenting. Generally speaking, parents assume that their kids are angry at them because they are trying to discipline and this is NOT true. Many kids are upset with their parents because of “how” they have been disciplining them and why they discipline them.

Being A Strict Parent

Setting boundaries for teenagers is a good thing. Controlling them and trying to keep them from living their life is not a healthy approach. If your teenager has ever accused you of being too strict, then you will need to take an honest look at yourself to find out if this is true. Now, the trick here is that if you base your reasoning on “how” your parents raised you, then you may need to look at the fact that your parents taught you by being too strict.

Were Your Parents Too Strict?

This is where many families struggle because your teenager lives in a much different world then the one you grew up in. These days’ kids have access to everything and while this does not mean that they should be able to do what they want, it does mean that you need to change “how” you approach the situation. Most of the rebellion you see taking place stems from parents being too strict and what this means is that you need to change “how” you set boundaries which is what this entire course outlines: change “how” you set your boundaries so that your teenager will not rebel.

Put Them In Touch With Their Emotions

Teaching your child to become more attune to their emotions is going to be vital to the success of their life. Anger is a sign and symbol that is sending a loud and clear message: “Hey, I don’t like this so please do something about it”.

It’s an empowering experience when someone is capable of being constructive with his or her anger. It’s an art form when an individual is able to share their emotions and still get their point across without shouting or screaming. When you look at spiritual philosophies such as Buddhism, where an entire culture has devoted their life to this way of being, you can truly start to see how powerful it really is.

Becoming A Therapist

Once again, you can either learn to do this yourself or you can spend thousands of dollars having a therapist do this. This is why people go to therapy: to get in touch with their emotions. All you need to do is be willing to be neutral and provide your teenager a safe place where they can talk about what is going on, then you can avoid having to go to therapy. It just requires that you ask good questions, be willing to listen, and then follow up with more questions. It is the good questions that helps guide the person in therapy to reveal to himself or herself what is going on. This is what will put them in touch with their emotions.

Internalizing Anger

If you’re not able to teach your teenager how to be more in touch with their emotions, he or she will internalize it. Anytime you turn on the news and see kids out of control, fights, and other destructive behaviors, this is the result of them not being able to be in touch with their emotions. Our anger must go somewhere and if we cannot strike a balance so that we have control over it, we will internalize it. It causes havoc down the road because it builds up inside and explodes into something that creates chaos (whether at home, school, or elsewhere).

Troubled Teenagers

When a child internalizes their anger and does not have anyone to talk to or a way of releasing their anger, this is how they become a troubled teen. What happens is that they are experiencing turmoil “inside their body” and this is affecting their behavior. As time goes on and their emotions go unchecked, then other aspects of their life will become affected and they will act out with erratic behaviors until their issues and emotions are addressed.

The Victim Role

One of the biggest pitfalls people enter into when dealing with anger is that they take on the victim role and re-create situations as if they have been victimized. When people choose this path it can send them on a downward spiral because they haven’t accepted responsibility for their choices and actions. While it’s true that someone else may not have been very nice or a situation may not have turned out as they would have liked, it’s still important not to create a story in their minds that they are victimized. The most powerful tool you can teach your child is to see everything from a neutral perspective. When people make themselves out to be victims, they’re really saying that they don’t have control over their lives and that what happens outside of them controls them. As your teenagers guide, you need to teach them how to take responsibility for their choices and actions.

Here is something you can say to them:

No matter what happens in life, you are responsible for how it makes you feel. Just because someone does something wrong or bad does not mean you have to take it on as your own. You’re in control of your emotions and it’s up to you not to let things get the best of you. Remember, you can’t control what others say or do but you can control how you respond to it.”

Using Anger In A Positive Way

When your teenager is angry, it’s your responsibility to teach them how to channel their energy in a constructive manner so they can explore their emotions and do something positive with them. Just as in the other modules of this course, first you need to confront your own issues with anger to ensure you have a healthy relationship with it.

  • When someone does something that you don’t like, do you react angrily and take it personally? Or are you able to respond from a centered and balanced perspective?
  • When you feel angry are you able to speak your truth while creating the space for the other person to speak as you listen? Or are you so absorbed with your anger that you no longer hear anything else.
  • If someone or something hurts you do you focus more on resolving it or retribution? Do you just want to get back at them so that they can feel your anger?
  • When you feel angry do you suppress it and push it down into your stomach so that you can try and forget about it? Or are you able to look at it in the moment and transform it.

Helping your teenager find their balance with anger so that he or she can use it in a constructive way is a great gift to bestow on them so that they do not have to suffer as much as others do. Here is a step-by-step action plan for helping them put their anger into perspective:

Step 1 – Acknowledge It

First you need to teach your child that being angry is not only ok, but also healthy because it’s a sign that they can use to show them that something is out of balance. When something happens that makes your child feel angry, tell them it is ok to be angry. This is very important because it will help to neutralize the situation.

Step 2 – Look At It

By teaching your child to acknowledge their anger and take a close look at it, they can then learn more about themselves and come up with potential solutions. Be specific and make them tell you what it is about the situation makes them so angry? Show your child that by remaining neutral with their anger, it allows them to resolve it and move on with their lives. Once it’s out on the surface it can actually be transformed into something healthy. Take the time with your teenager to objectively look at what it is that angers them so much.

Step 3 – Feel It

Once your teenager looks at the situation, they can feel the emotions that come with it. Help your teenager feel their anger. Say things to them like, “It hurts doesn’t it?” “It sucks that this and that has happened doesn’t it?” By allowing them to feel it they won’t suppress their emotions and it provides the initial phase of the healing process.

Step 4 – Release It

Anger has a lot of passion behind it that needs to be released. You can help your teen do this by allowing them to scream, yell, shout, hit a pillow, exercise, or something physical. Whatever works for them is fine as long as they can release the emotions. Martial arts is a great platform for kids to release their anger because it allows them to fight at the same time that it teaches them honor, respect, and discipline.  I cannot stress how important it is that they have a physical outlet for their anger.

Step 5 – Transform It

Once your teenager has looked at their anger and gotten it out of their system, they can transform it by exploring what it was and how it angered them. You need to ask good questions about what happened and help them accept their role in the process even if it means them just accepting that they can’t control everything (accept their emotions). It’s very important that you help them put it into perspective so that they can resolve it and move on with their lives. What you need to do is go through the scenario with them and explore what happened, why it happened, and what they could have done differently (what choices they could have made) that would have sent them in a different direction. Or, the other side of the coin is that sometimes people just need to learn acceptance and allowance (meaning you can’t control everything) and this could be a good time for them to start learning this tool.

 Extreme Anger

When a teenager has not been taught to transform their anger at the early stages of it, then it bottles up inside of them and grows into something quite nasty(i.e. Troubled Teenager). If your teenager is experiencing extreme forms of anger, then make sure to read the modules entitled:

Out Of Control


Lead By Example

An important factor here is “how” you handle your anger with them and the world. Your kids are watching you so they will internalize how to handle anger by the way you handle anger. I recall growing up and always seeing my uncle yell at cars next to us as we were driving saying things like “fucking asshole!” or “Learn to drive dumbass!” and I remember thinking to myself, “Is this the way I am supposed to talk to people if they do something wrong?”

Be aware of your own approach to anger and do it in a healthy way. Don’t hide or keep your anger from your kids. Show them so they don’t feel that anger is something we just put away and ignore. By doing this you show them that its ok to express feelings and it helps them deal with it in the moment. If you haven’t learned how to deal with anger yet, use the step-by-step tools I suggest above and start your process of learning how to transform anger.

admin September 17, 2012
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