5 Ways To Handle your Out-Of-Control Teenager

In This Article

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

Rebel teenage behavior

Image: iStock

  • 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
Do remember
When you notice the signs of aberrant behavior, refrain from confronting them impulsively. This can aggravate the situation and make them withdraw into a shell and develop trust issues.

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 an 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).
Point to ponder
Make an effort to comprehend your teen’s rage. Do they, for instance, feel inadequate because their friends have stuff they don’t? Maybe all they want is someone to listen to them without passing judgment.

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:

Observe and reflect on the whole situation

Image: Shutterstock

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.

Quick tip
When talking to your teen, your body language conveys your readiness to listen; avoid gazing them in the eye; and respect their personal space. You need to be assertive without coming across as frightening.

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:

Implement tough rules at home

Image: Shutterstock

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).

Infographic: What Not To Say To Your Difficult Teenager

There may be different reasons that can cause teenagers to get out of control. It may lead them to act out in aggression and defiance. But, you must not escalate the situation by saying things you shouldn’t since they are sensitive at this point. Keep this infographic handy to understand and remember what not to say to your difficult teenager.

words you should not say to a difficult teenager [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is my teenager out of control?

Teens may have intense emotions and may not know how to express their feelings. They can be sensitive and self-conscious and often experience overwhelming emotions that make them disrespectful and argumentative with parents and others. Stressful or worrying life events could make them have behavioral issues. Lack of sleep, mental health issues, and an unhealthy diet can cause challenging behavior in teens (10).

2. Can I kick my teenager out?

You cannot kick out or abandon your minor teen, even though they are disrespectful, harmful, or have challenging behaviors. You may seek help from legal authorities to send them to residential care homes or foster care in the worst scenarios. Parents have the right to send their teen above 18 years out of the house in case of challenging behaviors. However, it is always advisable to find a solution for your teen’s problems (11).

3. What do you do when you can’t cope with your child?

You may give a break when it is difficult to cope with parenting. Seek support from friends, family, or support groups to help cope with parenting. Enlisting a counselor’s help if required is also a good idea. You may also seek support from children’s care centers if your child has challenging behaviors (12).

4. Under what circumstances can a child be taken into care?

There are various reasons for which a child is taken into care. Abandonment or death of a parent and neglect or abuse in the household can be reasons for sending a child to care. Children with substance abuse problems can also be sent to care. The decision to send care is always taken if it is the best option to ensure the child’s safety and care (13).

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.
  1. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS).
  2. If You Have a Problem with Drugs: For Teens and Young Adults.
  3. Young Teens (12-14 years of age).
  4. Teenagers (15-17 years of age).
  5. Martha C Tompson et al.; (2000); Identifying and treating adolescent depression.
  6. The Teen Brain: 7 Things to Know.
  7. Emotional changes in puberty.
  8. The Psychology of Adolescence.
  9. Adolescent Health.
  10. Challenging behaviour – teenagers.
  11. Can your parents kick you out?
  12. I’m struggling to cope as a parent.
  13. What happens when a child is taken into care?


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