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9 Strategies for Parenting a Stubborn and Rebellious Teenager

Updated on June 30, 2016


Teenagers, ages 13-19, are usually in the stage where they’re trying to figure out their identity and who they plan to be as they mature and ultimately become an adult. Various influences are affecting your child at this point including peers, social media, television, and an internal conflict between who they are and who they desire to be. Unfortunately, if there was a period where the parent became lackadaisical when raising their teenager as a child (i.e. allowed them to have a cell phone at an early age with unrestricted access, didn’t set good boundaries or was too lenient/not consistent with discipline) you may have found that when your child became a teenager their behavior gradually worsened. This period was more than likely the time when influences outside of your parenting began to heavily influence your child. When they entered the adolescent stage, your teenager began to utilize those influences to help define themselves. Many teenagers will grow out of this stage and become mature productive adults, but because you are still the parent (and responsible for them) it is important for you to do everything you can to help them transition out of this phase as smoothly as possible.


Parents are not perfect. A book on how to be a perfect parent doesn't exist. Parenting is a continued learning process. As a parent, you have made mistakes. Maybe you swore at or hit your teen frequently when they were a child. Perhaps you did not show them enough attention or was always working and left them with strangers who abused or neglected them. It is also very possible that you showed your adolescent love through material things and money. Your parenting styles have ultimately influenced your teen today. Admit it- to them and yourself. This will take a lot of reflection and self-awareness. Many parents repeat the same ineffective parenting styles that their parents had. Learn to be honest with yourself and allow your ego to take a backseat. Then have a serious sit down with your teens and admit your mistakes. Apologize. The key to this strategy is changing for the good. Meaning, if you yelled at your teen a lot when they were child, stop now that they are an adolescent. Discuss the ways you plan to change and then allow your teen to express the changes they're willing to make as well.


If you’re the parent of a teenager, hopefully there are moments where when things are going well- the communication between you and your teen is healthy. Many parents make the mistake of not discussing issues during periods of happiness to avoid conflict. However, this is the best time to bring up problems regarding your teen. For example, If you and your teen are hanging out, laughing and having a grand time, but two days prior your teen stayed out past curfew and you were unhappy about it, address it casually. Tell your teen that you did not appreciate him or her coming home past curfew. Tell him or her how it made you feel and the negative possibilities of what could have happened. Compromise with your teen. For example, you may agree to allow your teen to stay out an hour or two past curfew if they inform you of their location. Change the subject if you see your teen becoming agitated.


Reflect on the approach you take with your teen. If an argument occurs every time you attempt to have a serious discussion, then that means the way you are communicating is ineffective. Believe it or not, you have the power to make someone respond to you in the way that you desire just by the way that you speak with them. Your inflection, tone, message and rapport is important. Think about some of the things you may say or do when you’re talking to your teen. Do you raise your voice? Swear? Or Belittle your teen? You’ll need to correct this before attempting to have serious discussions with him or her.


This is important. Many parents underestimate the power of spending quality time with their teen. Some parents may feel like they have nothing in common with their adolescent. Maybe it’s awkward when you two are alone. However, many teens crave quality time with their parents, even if they do not express this. Eating dinner with your teen or completing some sort of activity is considered quality time. Driving together in a car or attending a doctor or dentist appointment is not quality time. The key to this strategy is consistency. Make an effort to spend at least one day a week completing an activity with your teen. This will show him or her that you are trying to make a genuine effort to improve the relationship and your teen will gradually acquiesce.


Many teens have friends who are negative influences. Addressing this at the first observation of negative peer influences is best. However, if you find out that your teen is hanging out with a bad crowd, you’ll need to exercise your power and make an attempt to control who your teen associates with. This can be achieved by changing your teen’s school. If that's not possible, sign your adolescant up for a specialized class or club (art, STEM, karate, etc.), where there are other like-minded teens with a good head on their shoulders. It is important not to express how much you dislike your teens current circle friends. This will make your teen want to associate with those negative peers even more. Once your teen becomes surrounded by more positive peer influences, they’ll see that their old friends are of no benefit to them.


A good therapist is always helpful especially if your teen has experienced a recent loss, is depressed or dealing with some sort of unresolved anger. A therapist can help your teen regulate their emotions, improve thoughts and feelings about him or herself and develop positive coping strategies. All therapists are not created equal. Find out who your teen would prefer to work with. Your teen may feel more comfortable working with a male or female therapist. Some therapists also specialize in addressing certain mental, behavior or family problems.


Mentors can be extremely beneficial. A mentor can act as an older brother or sister to your teen and encourage him or her to stay out of trouble and avoid making bad decisions. Mentors can be cousins, uncles or friends. You may also be able to find a mentor through a local human service agency. Be sure to vet the mentor- even if they are relatives. Obtain a background check if possible.


If your teen is at home that you absolutely do not approve of, and he or she refuses to return home, you still have power. Contact your local police or sheriff’s department to have your teen forced to return home. This may get ugly once he or she returns. If possible, send your teen to a relative’s home while the differences between you two are worked out and resolved. If you are unable to identify a support for your teen to live with temporarily, go through the above strategies with an attempt to improve you and your teens relationship.

If you’ve attempted the above interventions and have not had any success, do not beat yourself up over it. Most teens are cognitively aware of their behaviors and the consequences. If they continue to be rebellious and refuse to follow your rules, then they’ll have to accept the outcomes of their actions. All parents were once teens themselves. Think about how many times you refused to listen to your parents as teens and the trouble you got into. Then try to understand that your teen is merely doing the exact same thing and will grow out of their childish stubborn behaviors just like you did. Be optimistic and really make a genuine effort to change and implement the above strategies. Your teen wants to be a good person. Help them as much as you can. If they’re not receptive, let them make the mistakes they need to make to learn life lessons. Good luck!


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    • Brandi Stone profile image

      Brandi Stone 18 months ago from NC

      Hi @denise.w.anderson,

      I agree. Social media and television influences doesn't make it any easier for them either. Teenagers today have to deal with a lot more now then the teenagers from the previous generations. With the advancements in technology we'd think it would be the opposite.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 18 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Teenagers are in a tough place in life. They want to be adults, but they still need guidance like children. Our ability to be firm with them, and yet have open and honest communication will make all the difference in the world to the decisions that they make as they enter adulthood.