5 Reasons Why Your Teen is Rebelling


Teenage rebellion is nothing new. Rebellious children have been around since the first children inhabited the earth.  Remember Cain and Abel? So, what should you do about it?  Run from the battle? Raise the white surrender flag in defeat? Go to war with guns a blazing? None of those things will accomplish very much and may end up killing your relationship with your child. Instead, it’s important to first get a handle on why your teen may be rebelling. Understanding why your teen is rebelling is foundational to understanding what we should do about it.  In today’s blog, I’m going to talk about the “Why?” Tomorrow, we’ll address the “What?”

Here are 5 reasons why your teen may be rebelling:

Struggle for Identity.

Your teen is trying to answer the question, “Who am I?”  During the teen years, our children struggle to figure out who they really are and why they are here.  It’s important during this time for parents to help children understand their immeasurable value because of who they are, not for what they do. A mom and dad should help their kids understand the difference between identity and image.

Struggle for Acceptance.

Remember trying to be cool in order to fit in? It’s the same today. Teens still want to be part of the crowd, they want a sense of belonging, and they still feel the pressure to do what everyone else is doing. In the movie “What a Girl Wants,” teenage Daphne is trying to be someone she’s not and is really struggling with it. At one point, her boyfriend asks, “Why are you trying so hard to fit in, when you were born to stand out?”  While understanding our children’s need for acceptance, let’s help them understand that it’s good to be different. Encourage them to be different, to have the courage to do what’s right, and the conviction to stand out in the crowd.

Struggle for Attention.

Often teens want others to notice them. They’re silently saying, “Hey, look at me!” And sometimes, they’ll do almost anything for attention.  As parents, we need to do everything we can to give our kids attention by being available when they need us.  A father or mother who is always working and not paying attention to their child will find a child who seeks attention in many wrong places and in many wrong ways. Fathers, especially, need to let their daughters know they are beautiful inside and out. And they need to let their sons know they’ve got what it takes.

Struggle for Control.

When our children are younger, we are in complete control of just about everything they do—what they eat, what they wear, where they go and who they are with.  As they get older, our children want to make more and more decisions for themselves and don’t want mom or dad always telling them what to do.  We need to show our children that they will have more control over their decision-making to the extent that we can trust them to make wise decisions.  Trust is earned over time.

Struggle for Freedom.

If you have teens, you’ve probably heard something like, “I just want some freedom.” While teens say they want total freedom and independence, they still want to, and need to, rely upon us for certain things.  As parents, we need to allow them to experience more freedom as they get older, but only as they learn a very important point: freedom comes with responsibility.

If you’ve ever dealt with your teenager rebelling, or are currently dealing with it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you handled the situation. Please share your comments with me below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Daera B. Dee Rarua

    My son got so drunk one night and wanted to charge at me because i was so upset… But I thank God that that evening My Silence was so very Helpful that tamed him so down regardless of all the bad words he used on me and also which made him realise and was weeping very hard with a hundred apologies….

  • Daera B. Dee Rarua

    Very True Indeed… We must love our children the way they are… and yes we are only parents to guide them in the right track… But true discipline must start from us, we must model properly in order for our children to follow… Not tell them to do the right thing and yet we are still doing the wrong!

  • duckie

    I don’t know why I keep breaking their rules, but it hurts so badly when I see I’ve caused them disappointment. It’s just that the leash is so short, it feels like I’m being set up for failure.

  • Crystal Clear to Me Now

    duckie – If you care enough to be crushed when you see you’ve hurt them, then you know that they institute boundaries out of love and for your protection; not to frustrate you. I remember for myself and then seeing it in my own kids, we had one face for our folks and another for our friends. When forced to choose, the friends typically won. I wonder if it was because we knew our folks would love us even if we hurt them. You will be an adult far longer than you will be a minor. It’s important that a good foundation is set. One of my sons met his now best friend because the friend was not going to a party where he knew there would be drinking. My son hung out with him instead and they are best friends still at almost 30. Maybe someone secretly needs you to set the bar!

  • danger

    I look at it as putting up bricks between the parents and the kids every time they disagree on something, and bricks make walls. Why would anybody want to put walls between you and your kids or viscera?

  • Solmon’s tongue

    Well you act as if you are perfect, doctor. As well as acting like you know what it is like now. Your day and time is long dead. Not everything can be analyzed by scientific and scholarly knowledge. Rebellion is our forced way to show individuality from the decrepit social standards of your decadent past. By midnight tonight I will have turned 17 years old. I have lived sixteen years repressing my likes because of not fitting in, and with a hellish rage the internet became the outlet to spread my message not of rebellion, but of courage and inspiration

  • Jean Yeo

    I dun know why… but I do know that I’m in rebellious state. it’s like when they start nagging, you just get very annoyed and think they don’t love you etc. like they show love to your older siblings other than you. you get the feeling that you start to hate this family more and more. when they started to say things like confiscating our phone, it makes us get the feeling they they want to gain control over us…
    she will only threaten me by crying and say I don’t love her at all. How is it that I have to keep showing my love when I myself don’t feel any love from her?
    She will only praise my older sibling and praise other kids. yet me? she will only say I’m just a lazy pig when I feel that for this year, I gone out every single day just to study. and when I go out, she give that kind of suspicious feeling towards me.
    she doesn’t trust me at all. I just feel that I want to be in a quiet place, peaceful place, place where she understands me, give me encouragement whenever I need, give me a sense of trust, don’t keep using confiscate phone as threat. that’s all I feel I want.

  • Reed

    MB, My heart breaks for you and your family. But I am so encouraged by your response to surrender this situation to God. It’s not an easy thing to do. I will pray for you and for the strength to continue to give this up to God each and every day. I will pray for a door to open that will allow for healthy communication between you and your daughter and her father.
    And I will pray for God to transform your daughter’s heart—that her eyes may be open to your great love for her and that she may seek you out to rekindle a relationship with you. Thank you for sharing your story. Keep on keeping on. And during this time of waiting, I encourage you to pray without ceasing for your daughter. This blog might be of some
    help! http://www.susanme.com/pray-or-panic/

  • jb

    so true…

  • Michael lubangco

    My parents always discourage me,and physicaly/emotionaly hurts me that’s why now I’m wasted

  • Arielle in NoVA

    Aw, sorry 🙁 You’re clearly her parents, but she’s probably just feeling sad about how she ended up being given up for adoption and is wondering who she is (genetically) and where she came from. How do you feel about letting her do DNA testing with a company like 23andMe, so she can try to get in touch with her birthparents or other blood relatives?

  • Not Now

    I’m so lost on which of the 5 reasons my 18 year old falls into, there is some of all she is doing. Moved out, staying out all night, hanging with a bad crowd in dangerous areas, very nasty and hateful, thinks we are an atm. She also has an adult encouraging her behavior.

  • Jeff

    depression is a spirit. the enemy will you it to isolate you. we bind it and him in Jesus Name walk in freedom…

  • Peachy

    So I have a brother. I don’t know what to do with him already. He’s 11 years old while I’m 17. Our parents work far away from us, I mean, abroad. Its hard to live without parents but I survived. Lol ? So, I do not know how to be a parent but I guess I have too. My brother is my responsibility and I love him even though I’m not that showy. I’m really confused where all his bad behaviors are coming from. Is it from the genes? Or was this all because of me? Years ago, I usually pinch him or something when he is misbehaving. But I stopped doing that unless he is disrespecting other people which is really very shameful. I am very moody and I easily get angry which is why its also kind of hard to control myself in these kind of situations. I have a feeling its because of me but I also have a feeling that he just needs attention. I am trying to help him change to be a better human being but he’s not helping himself. I really don’t know what to do anymore. He even disrespected my mom when all she did was to give us anything we like, be it material stuff or not. He only listens to himself and he feels that he is right all the time. He doesn’t like to be told that he is wrong.

  • Peachy

    Typo *to.

    And now, I don’t hurt him physically anymore. But instead, I cry and talk to him. If I get too angry and frustrated, I have the tendency to cry. So yep.

  • Jess

    Maybe teens rebel because there is a lack of understanding on the parents part. Sometimes communication is an issue as well. I grew up being called a slut, fat ass, and useless by my father, grandmother and aunt. Everyone that I’ve met who went through the rebellious phase like me had similar bad home situations. The more they called me names, the more angry I got. I never did drugs or partied or even had sex but I got screamed at every time I forgot to do the dishes or my laundry. Then we found out I have short term memory problems from being hit so much and kicked in the head. Maybe, depending on the situation, the parents need to evaluate them selves. If you are calling your kid useless or a whore, or like my grandma did, yelled at me that I need to go stand on a street corner because that’s where I belong, you need to take a good look at yourself. That’s probably why your kid hates you. You can be gentle with th emotions yet firm at the same time. Discipline is different than cruelty.

  • Jade Brunet

    I have often wondered why teenage years are so difficult. Thank you for informing me that this rebellious stage is partially caused by a struggle for identity. For those going through particularly hard times, it would be wise to seek professional help for a brighter future.

  • anonymous pt. 2

    omg. chill out princess. no need to get so excited.

  • anonymous part 3

    Thats so true. Princess needs to take a chill pill.

  • bimonics

    at an early teen age I think they act out this concept, “I can do what I want and there is nothing you can do about it”. Later teens add, “I am the best judge of my own thoughts, choices, and behaviour”. As issues arise, one must acknowledge verbalize these to the teen and hold a simple, firm line with regard to law and household rules including consequences …


    Oh yes

  • Ryan

    i am a teen that actually is going through a step father step son relationship that has been going on for quite a few years. I want him to listen to what I have to say but he calls everything I say BS or a lie. How do I break through because whatever I do is not enough for him. We have even gotten into a few physical fights but not to serious. Its only when he just doesn’t care for where I go even running away he has lied. He says he doesn’t care. Yet he gets everyone involved. I just want to be away from him but can’t. Please help me.

  • Susan Cochrane

    Hi Frustrated, it’s now 4 years later and I wonder how you’re doing. I was thinking to myself as I read your post, “Wow, this teen is awesome! They have an issue, and then research for solutions, and then share the info with their mom! I bet when this person gets on the other side of the situation, they’re going to be fine.” Well, teens are going through all kinds of changes and parents get stuck in sort of a rut sometimes and just want to keep the status quo. Ie: Keep their loving, compliant child. And not hear any new info. We all get harder to change as we get older, that’s true. I hope that that good trait that you have of looking for solutions is serving you well today!

  • Thea Abigail

    Teenagers rebel because they are self destructive. They are self destructive because they are angry. They are angry at who? At their parents! Why are they angry at their parents? It stems from resentment from when they were children. Their parents didn’t make them feel loved and respected, and now they have low self esteem. Why did they not feel loved or respected? For the following reasons that the parents caused: Lack of physical affection, lack of praise, lack of positive words and compliments, too much criticism, lack of discipline, neglect either physically or emotionally, physical abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, and punishment instead of discipline. It can be a couple of these things, or it can be all of them. You will know by the severity of the rebellion. Even if you were nice and respectful, yet you overly spoiled them, and didn’t discipline them, that can still affect kids emotionally, and cause them to rebel as teenagers. Remember, discipline is the highest form of love! So, stop blaming your teenagers and start taking personal responsibility! You are the ones that raised them! I cannot believe the amount of parents who actually think that they have no fault in this. Parents are quick to take credit for their kid’s success, but not for their failures. You are hurt because your child now doesn’t respect you, or make you feel loved? It is because YOU didn’t make them feel respected and loved! Stop blaming them and start apologizing to them to mend your relationship. Own up to your part. After all that you have put them through that caused the rebellion in the first place, on top of everything, you still keep making them feel horrible by making them feel that they are a bad person and that there is something wrong with them. You are further destroying their self esteem. It is no wonder why so many young people commit suicide! I also recommend that you have them take the 5 love languages test for teenagers. It is online, just Google it. This will let you know in which ways to accurately show love to your teenager. They need love. They are testing you to see how much you love them. They don’t get enough attention from you, so they settle with getting negative attention. That is why they are acting out. Good luck.

  • IntegrityIsEverything

    I was that angry rebellious teen. My mom had an affair when I was in grade school, married the guy, who proceeded to take it upon himself to do all the physical disciplining right away. By time I hit my teens, my parents had bad talked all authority figures from bosses to pastors to the ticket writing police officer. I was held accountable for my younger siblings actions. There was so much going on there that I could not effectively articulate then. But overall, my mom and step-father did not live with integrity. In reality, while I was not doing what they wanted me to, I was actually totally submitted to the rebellious tone they set in the home. I thought they were unfair just like they had of their authority figures. They cut off anyone that would hold them accountable, so I was primed to denounce them when they wanted to hold me accountable. I was premiscous just like they had had an affair and made light of it for years thereafter. I was angry in the same way they were angry with me when I didn’t do what they wanted, except I did not hit them. And I was dishonest just like I had watched them be for years. I judged them in all their flaws as they had put me in a box and I had heard them judge everyone else and gossip for years.

    My point is that while I was behaving in a way I knew I shouldn’t, it was in fact in the spirit in which my parents lived their lives, they just didn’t like it done towards them. I left home at 17. Pregnant. I married at 18 and had our first child shortly thereafter. But you know what happened within a year of being out of the house? My husband and I hungered for stability and integrity and we began to seek God with only the basic Sunday School teaching we retained from our childhoods before our parents left their church. God has been overwhelmingly gracious to us. He showed how and why we were wrong for our rebellious ways regardless of our parents actions. It says a lot to me that we sought God shortly after being on our own. Were we rebellious? Absolutely. I don’t know how things would have been if our parents had more integrity but at every point I was wrong, it resembled the spirit or actual actions of my parents. Not only do teens want to find their identity, but they want to identify with people they can respect. If that is not the parent, there may be just 1% of a reason why and it needs to be owned up to and repented of or it is non-sensical to expect integrity and grace from them. I have watched too many parents play the victim when their very perspectives are reflected in their child’s behaviour that they dislike. They didn’t overcome it so their children are faced with overcoming it, often to a more intense degree.