Teen Rebellion

In this lesson you are going to learn why your teenager is rebelling and what you can do to regain control of the situation.

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


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.

Need Help With Your Teen?

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Want more tips?

Alcohol – How to talk to your teen about alcohol

Anger – How to help your teen address their anger issues

Being Cool & Popular – How to talk to your teen about not being cool & popular

Boredom – How to talk to your teen when they are bored

Bullying – How to talk to your teen about bullying

Career & Life Purpose  – How to talk to your teen about building their future career & life purpose

Dating & Sex – How to talk to your teen about dating and sex

Depression – How to talk to your teen when they are depressed

Drugs – How to talk to your teen about drugs

Ecstasy – How to talk to your teen about using ecstasy aka MDMA or “Molly”

Hard Drugs – How to talk to your teen about hard drugs

Hurt Feelings – How to talk to your teen if they have hurt feelings

Lying – How to address your teen when you catch them lying

Money – How to talk to your teen about being responsible with money

Out of Control – How to talk to your teen when they are out of control

Overweight – How to talk to your when they become overweight

Partying – How to talk to your teen about partying

Rebellion – How to address teenage rebellion

School – Tips on how to address problems at school

Stealing – What to do if your teen is stealing

Technology Addiction – What to do if your teen is addicted to technology