Whether your teen can't seem to stand you -- or rather, your rules -- or she balks at the thought of conforming to the cookie-cutter image of adolescence the media or the "popular kids" have, rebellion is a common part of the maturation process. While it's far from abnormal for your teen to rebel, she may not act out in the same way as other teens or for the same reasons. From asserting her independence to experimenting with identity, rebellion comes in many forms and has an array of causes.
Teen rebellion, according to psychologist Carl Pickhardt in "Psychology Today," has two main types: non-conformity when it comes to society's rules for fitting in and acting out against authority figures 1. Additionally, teens may engage in a form of rebellion that involves experimenting with activities that are not on par with the child's former interests or are risky behaviors, such as smoking and using drugs. Your teen may very well engage in more than one type of rebellion at the same time.
One of the primary factors in any teen's rebellion is the development of an increased sense of independence. As your child moves into adolescence, he will begin to strive for a greater amount of independence from you and his family, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website. Although independence itself isn't synonymous with rebellion, it is often at the root of your teen's actions. You may interpret your teen's need to separate from you and act on his own as a form of rebellion. In most cases, this is a perfectly normal way for your teen to grow and become more of a young adult than a young child. In some families, the parents' reaction to the teen's growing independence may actually cause rebellion. For example, if you don't let your teen hang out at the mall with his friends because you are fearful of the trouble he could get into, he may rebel by sneaking out.
Just because you've always seen your child as your little angel doesn't mean she will remain the picture of perfection forever. When teens cling to a more child-like type of personality well into adolescence, they may end up rebelling even more than their early maturing peers. Delayed adolescence, or waiting until later on in the teen years to act as a mature and independent young adult, may mean your teen seems to suddenly and dramatically rebel. This doesn't mean your child is turning into an entirely new person or is switching personalities overnight; it is often simply a product of her overwhelming need for autonomy.
While slamming doors, rolling his eyes and refusing to wear the clothes you buy him are certainly not high on your list of ways you expect your teen to act, when it comes to rebellion these types of behaviors aren't exactly risky. On the other hand, engaging in sexual situations, smoking, drinking and using drugs are all risky rebellion behaviors. Rebelling via a risky behavior may result from your teen's quest to try new things or explore a new identity, or it may come from peer pressure 4. As much as your teen wants to rebel against you or other authority figures, he may do so by conforming to what his peers want him to do. On the other hand, your teen may rebel against a specific clique or crowd at school by engaging in seemingly risky acts. For example, if the "popular" kids all play sports and live a clean lifestyle, your teen may rebel by smoking in the bathroom while cutting class.
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