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Why Teenagers Tend to Display Such Negative Behaviors

Updated on February 24, 2015
mackyi profile image

I.W is from a family of 11. Thus, he finds himself having to help raise not only his own Son and Step-Children, but also Nieces and Nephews.

Teenagers Arguing
Teenagers Arguing | Source

The teenage period of life in most western cultures including the U.S. is marked by changes in behavior and appearance. Historically, most of these changes have been considered negative and unacceptable, and often, have been linked to changes in biological factors -- especially hormones. Although many authors believe that teenagers' negative behaviors are the results of their raging hormones, this is only partially true, because the parenting styles they have received during early childhood, can also have an impact on their behavior during their teenage period of life.

From a psychological standpoint, hormones can act on the brain in the following two ways:

  1. Sex hormones can have an impact on personality and behavior due to their early influence on brain development. However, the change in hormone levels during puberty do not have any effect on personality and behavior.
  2. Hormones may triggers specific behaviors through their effects on the nervous system. However, these effects tend to be immediate or slightly delayed.

As far as physical and sexual maturation is concerned, it is believed that this may result from an interaction of the hormonal levels, health factors, and genetic makeup of the developing person. However, there is only a very limited direct relationship between levels of hormones during the teenage period of life and the following behaviors, according to Human Development Specialists:

  • Moodiness
  • Depression
  • Restlessness and lack of concentration
  • Irritability
  • Impulsiveness
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression and behavior problems

All teenagers do not exhibit dramatic changes in all the above behaviors, even though all experience increases in hormone levels. It is therefore, likely, that other factors are involved in producing these negative behaviors. Among the suggested contributory factors are: changing roles, social or cultural expectations, environmental situations in the home or school, and even the media.

Since changes in hormone level alone cannot be held responsible for all the above negative behaviors, the factors that are most likely to produce these inappropriate behaviors are definitely a combination of environmental situations and an increase in hormone levels. For example, if family problems exist during early and middle childhood, family dysfunction may exacerbate during teenage, with inappropriate sexual behavior, running away aggression, and alcohol/drug use. However, if good parent-child relationships existed prior to the teenage period, relationships generally continue to be good throughout the teenage period as well, and parents continue to have a major influence on their children.

Secondly, the parenting style each child received may help to influence the behaviors and personality of the child. If you take a close look at these four parenting styles below, in particular the type of children each style usually produce, you will also agree that parenting styles are in part responsible for the behaviors of adolescents.

1.Authoritative Parenting Style

The parenting style of authoritative parents are considered high. They have a tendency to accept and encourage the growing autonomy of their children. At the same token, they are also very warm(high warmth). The type of communication they have with their children are usually opened, and the rules are also flexible. The children of these parents are found to be the best adjusted, most self-reliant,self-controlled, and socially competent; perform better in school and have higher self-esteem.

2. Authoritarian Parenting Style

Authoritarian parents are said to have high control over their children. They give commands and expect them to be followed. The warmth they show to children are considered low(low warmth), and they have little communication with children. The rules set are usually found to be inflexible -- allowing children to gain independence from them. These children are usually found to be withdrawn, fearful, moody, unassertive, and irritable. Based on findings, girls tend to be aggressive, rebellious and aggressive.

3. Permissive Parenting Style

Their control are considered low, this means there are few to no restraints whatsoever on a child. They show unconditional love for their children. The communication between parent and child is considered very warm (high warmth). The children are allowed a lot of freedom and there is little guidance, no setting of limits by the parents. These children tend to be aggressive, rebellious,socially inept,self-indulgent, and impulsive. Contrarily, in some cases, they may be active, outgoing and creative.

4. Indifferent Parenting Style

The indifferent parent control for their children is generally low. They tend to set no limits or boundaries for children. It's believed that they lack affection for children. They show low warmth towards children, and tend to focus on the stress in their own lives, which leaves them with no energy for children. If indifferent parents act as neglectful parents do, their children tend to show high expression of destructive impulses and delinquent behavior.


This is not to say hormones have no effect on behavior. For example, one behavioral science expert reported that the level of testosterone was found to be a general strong predictor of sexual involvement among 12-16 years old girls. However, their effects are often mediated by existing psychological or social factors in the home environment. With this been said, it's safe to argue that the negative behavior often seen in teenagers are definitely the result of a surge in hormones along with the parenting style received.


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    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      Thanks for the comment. Before I did my research, I knew beforehand that they were people out there including yourself and others who would agree with most(maybe not all),of what I had to say on this subject matter.

    • Ealair profile image


      6 years ago from Dover, NH

      I'm glad to know, that someone besides me makes the connection that "hormones" isn't the answer to why children behave the way they do.

      If that was the case, we would be getting more polite not less, considering a the ages of parents throughout history has actually raised dramatically.


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