Rebellious Teenager

Rebellious teenager behavior is common. However, there are different degrees of being a rebellious teenager, and in some cases, rebellious teenagers can turn into defiant teens. This article compares rebellious teenager vs. defiant teenager.

One part of growing up involves finding your own identity and asserting a certain degree of independence. The teen years are a time when many begin to test their boundaries and challenge authority. Such individuals are often called rebellious teenagers. 

Rebellious teenager vs. defiant teenager

One of the more important distinctions for a rebellious teenager is when he or she crosses the line and becomes defiant. Rebelliousness includes some of the following signs:

  • Resisting control of others.
  • Resisting authority.
  • Questioning the actions and decisions of those in charge.
  • Being discontented by authority.
  • Sometimes refusing to obey, or arguing the rules.

Many of these rebellious teenager behaviors are normal. In some cases, teenagers may wear clothes or listen to music that you do not necessarily approve of. However, in general, a rebellious teenager still remains a part of the family and attempts to move forward with life. These signs of normal teen rebellion point to the development of one’s own ideas and thoughts, as well as identity.

A rebellious teenager crosses the line into defiance when he or she begins to display contempt. A defiant teenager constantly argues with authority, and makes it clear that the authority is unworthy of his or her time. These rebellious teenagers boldly resist authority and show blatant disrespect for adults. In some cases, rebellious teenagers can become violent as part of their defiance. In fact, teens who continually show contempt for authority and actively resist all attempts at moderating behavior, can be diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD).

Dealing with a rebellious teenager

While dealing with ODD may require professional intervention, it is possible for you to help your teen through the rebellious teenager years. Here are some ideas that can help your teen - and you - get through a rough patch:

  • Provide love and support. Let them know that while you disapprove of their behavior, you still love them as people.
  • Listen to and acknowledge their emotions. Sometimes rebellious teenagers need a listening ear. Listen to what they say, and show that you understand them and their viewpoint, even if you don’t agree.
  • Continue to acknowledge the boundaries you set. Sometimes rebellious teenagers will put a toe (or even their whole bodies) over the line. Be consistent, though, and reiterate the boundaries. However, it might be a good time to evaluate your boundaries and determine whether your might be too strict.
  • Allow some decision making. There are many decisions that teenagers can make every day, from what extracurricular activities to participate in to what they wear or listen to. Additionally, you can include them in some family decision making as appropriate.
  • Avoid comparing your teen to others. Praise his or her good qualities, and acknowledge improvement made in comparison with his or her own past behavior and performance.
  • Respect your teen’s boundaries. Try to provide some privacy, knocking before you enter her or his room.  Do your best to avoid embarrassing your teen in front of others.

Many parents also find that creating behavior contracts with their rebellious teenagers works well. Your teen can help set standards and rules of behavior, and help you decide on reasonable rewards and punishments related to this behavior. When teens are more involved in such decisions, they are often less inclined to rebel.