5 Ways To Handle your Out-Of-Control Teenager

Image: Shutterstock


An out-of-control teenager may have emotional, behavioral, and learning issues that become more intense over time. Most troubled teens have a high probability of engaging in risky behaviors such as being in bad peer groups and using drugs or alcohol. Although most of them may experience behavioral changes and mood swings due to puberty, these are not uncontrollable or violent behaviors. At times, they may often escalate arguments and engage in violence at home and outside. It can be challenging to deal with teenagers with such troubling behavior. They may need additional support and help to avoid these behavioral outbursts. Keep reading this post as we guide you more about out-of-control teen behaviors and how to handle them. Understanding their mind could help you talk to them and direct them towards the right path.

What is Out-of-Control Teenage Behavior?

As a parent of a teenager, you must often wonder what’s normal and what is out-of-control when it comes to your teen’s behavior. You may be right with this line of thinking as teenagers are a moody bunch. You never know when and why they react in a certain situation (1).

Out-of-control behavior is not a fine line. It is a clearly-seen demarcation. But still you may easily miss it or even dismiss it as normal (2).

Normal Teen Behavior:

  • Rebellious acts
  • Mood swings
  • Spending more time with friends than with family
  • Angry outbursts
  • Being secretive

Out-of-Control Teen Behavior:

  • Falling/poor performance in school
  • Violent acts (fights at school/home), extreme aggression
  • Breaking laws
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Self-destructive acts

Red Flags:

  • Changes in appearance/appetite/sleep patterns
  • Depression/emotional health issues
  • New set of friends that lead to negative behavioral patterns in your teen
  • Excessive isolation/aloofness/excessive internet use or gaming
  • Repeatedly breaking laws

Possible Reasons For Out-of-Control Teenager’s Behavior:

There can be any number of reasons for out-of-control teen’s behavior. [4] But here are the major causes you need to be aware of:

  • Teenagers go through a lot of physical and mental changes. All the cognitive changes along with hormonal flux can make teenagers moody and anxious. Your teen can go through a state of confusion and succumb to peer pressure. These can lead your child to indulge in rebellious acts that can go out-of-control easily. Depression and other emotional changes can also lead your teen to experiment with drugs or alcohol (3) (4) (5).
  • The adolescent brain goes through a lot of development. The cortex (the base of memories and thoughts) fully matures in the early 20s. The processes that help with impulse controls mature last. At this stage, teens are likely to experience tremendous mood swings that can lead to bad behavior on their part (6).

Ways to Handle Your Out-of-Control Teenager:

You can deal with your out-of-control teenager with the help of several measures (7).

1. Face the Mirror:

Is it you or is it your teen? Did you contribute to your teen’s troubled behavior? What makes your teen behave the way he does all of a sudden? You may also be in denial about your teenager out-of-control behavior. But this may not help anyone in similar situations. So, it may help you to observe and reflect on the whole situation. Your teen will not spring his out-of-control behavior on you all of a sudden. It happens over a period. A rebellious phase may turn into an out-of-control burst of anger that refuses to subside. You may have missed the signs, which are your teen’s cry for help. If you did, instead of wallowing in guilt, take action before your child does something that is life-threatening. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. A child’s teen years are tough on parents too. Take a deep breath, toughen up and take action (8).

2. Find the Answers:

Have a heart-to-heart conversation with your troubled teenager. Even if he doesn’t share, chances are he is listening to you. Talk, not scold or patronize him. And if they share, listen without judgment.

3. Know When To Act:

When to intervene and when to wait for any troubled behavior to phase out? Scenario A – Is your teen hanging out with friends who are loud/have poor hygiene but otherwise decent kids? Scenario B – Is your teen bunking school and hanging with kids who abuse alcohol/drugs/destruct properties? With scenario A, you can relax but may want to keep monitoring any changes in your teen. With B, you need to act fast and with some firm action. The trick is not to go by your preferences but what keeps your kid safe.

4. Make Rules:

Establish order in your house by implementing tough rules about schoolwork, household chores, dinner time, bad behavior, spending, etc. Add consequences to each action that doesn’t comply with these rules. Don’t become lax thinking your teen will hate you for it. Teens hate their parents in any case. So, if your teenager breaks a rule then let him know there are consequences he must face. For instance, overspending equals earning his next month’s pocket money through extra chores around the house.

5. Seek Help:

If sessions with a counselor or a therapist can benefit your kid then by all means, go for it. Teens may be more willing to open up to a stranger than their parents. Also, don’t discount seeking help from family members. Teenagers are likely to be more open with an older sibling or even grandparents. Try all avenues for help (9).

You may feel helpless while trying to handle an out-of-control teenager. Teenagers are vulnerable to negative influences and are highly unpredictable. Being secretive or rebellious is normal at this age but resorting to violence, substance abuse, or breaking laws is concerning. Look out for reasons such as peer pressure or online influence on the behavior of your teenager, and try opening gates for discussion. Being judgemental or asserting your opinions can do more harm than good. Set mutually agreed rules with consequences, ensure that your child is in good company without interfering with their privacy, and identify situations that require firm actions. Managing teenagers can be taxing, but timely intervention and tailor-made solutions with a lot of patience can help your teen out of trouble.

What to do when your teenager is out of control? How do you deal with your kid’s out-of-control behavior? Please share some tips with other readers.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

Recommended Articles:

The following two tabs change content below.

Katherine Paxton

(Applied Psychology Program)
Katherine Paxton is an internationally-known award winning author of the book “Counselling people on the autism spectrum; A practical manual”. She graduated from a tri-university Applied Psychology Program of Campus Alberta (University of Alberta, Athabaska University, and University of Lethbridge). Katherine has supported people with diverse abilities for over a quarter of a century, including 15 years as a counselor... more

Debolina Raja

Debolina Raja came into the writing world while she was playing around with words and participating in various literary events. In the professional world, she found her writing interest in various genres such as health, wellness, parenting, relationship, and brand management. Having done a Masters degree in English literature from Delhi University, she loves reading, heading out on road trips, hibernating... more