Parental Options for an Out of Control Teenager

Are you at your wit’s end and don’t know what to do? Is your teen out of control? Do you have any advice for you? When it comes to knowing the difference between out of control behavior and normal behavior, it can be very difficult. 

There are many options available for you when dealing with an out of control teen, but you need to know how to determine the behavior of your child.

Out of Control Behavior vs Normal Teen Behavior

It is important to remember that teens come in all shapes and sizes. Even the most experienced of parents may wonder, “Is this normal?” Sometimes their behavior may even leave them wondering, “Is this normal?”. 

It’s important to be able to discern what is normal and what has gone beyond the norm. A typical teen might be described as follows:

  • An understated mood
  • Keeping things secret
  • Afraid of frustration
  • A short-tempered person
  • A dissatisfied customer
  • A restless feeling

In order to know if your teen needs to seek help, you need to know if he or she is:

  • A person who is physically abusive or destructive in any way
  • Self-harming is the act of harming oneself
  • Abuse of verbal communication
  • Doing drugs or drinking alcohol on a regular basis
  • Intentionally stealing something
  • I will not be coming home
  • The experience of being arrested or detained by the police
  • Changes in behavior that occur rapidly
  • The act of running away or leaving the house

There is something wrong when your teen exhibits these behaviors, and you should be aware that they are not normal for a teen. Now that you know what to look for, it is important that you work to try to regain control of your household once you know what to look for. 

In some cases, this can be as simple as working with your teen to change your parenting style or rules, but it can also be as complicated as seeking professional help from someone else.

How to Regain Control of Your Teenager

Most teens will become destructive at some point or try a drink or two. This is a normal part of growing up and test boundaries. Most of the time, if behavior is starting to cross the line, you’ll feel it right away. 

Taking the right steps to get your teen back on track is crucial. Here are some tips that you can try.

Open Lines of Communication

Talking to teens is not an easy task. However, according to Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC, it’s important to understand and communicate even if you don’t understand. Instead of judging or giving advice, just listen to your teen. 

They might not answer direct questions but if you listen and talk casually when they are ready, you’ll be amazed at what they are willing to share.


Separation is the name of the game for teens. They are trying to figure out how to manage the adult world on their own, but their brains and bodies are still developing. Much like a toddler, this comes with frustration and aggression. Coping with that aggression, according to Meri Wallace, LCSW, takes patience and understanding. 

Acknowledge your teen’s emotions and listen to what is causing their frustration. Work together to try to understand their wants or decisions and help them to work toward making the right decision without criticizing or infantilizing teens.

Find Balance

Maybe your teen is bored or maybe they need your help finding their passion. Many teens are worried about the future and lacking structure or purpose in their life. You can help to give them that structure by establishing guidelines about meal times, bedtimes, etc. 

Rather than issuing commands that teens will rebel against work together to create a structure that will benefit both of you and reduce stress. More than anything else, teens want your love and acceptance as they navigate the turbulent waters of adolescence.

Set Consequences

Teens must understand there are consequences for their actions. However, setting unreasonable expectations or barking orders is just going to get you into a warlike rebellion. Instead, talk to your teen and work together to set rules and expectations that are reasonable. 

For example, work together to create a curfew that is both reasonable and can be followed. Create consequences for rules that are broken and stick to them. Being consistent is key.

When to Seek Professional Help

Knowing when it’s time to seek professional help isn’t always a cut and dry line. Most of the time, it’s up to the parent’s discretion. However, some behaviors you shouldn’t let slide. If your teen is addicted to drugs or violent to you or siblings, it’s important to seek professional help. 

It’s also important to watch out for signs of depression or other mental health issues that could be causing the behaviors. These include:

  • An excessive amount of emotion or irrationality
  • Feeling tired
  • There is a change in appetite
  • Isolation from social networks
  • A self-harming behavior
  • Getting agitated

Options Available for Troubled Youth

If you’ve done everything you can think of as a parent or guardian and your teen is still winding down that narrow road to destruction, there are still options. It’s time to bring in the big guns and get professional help before you have a run away or a juvenile delinquent. 

Not only are their treatment options for at home, but all-encompassing 24-hour programs as well.


Counseling can be available for just your teen but also for the family as well. Therapy can help you and your teen heal the disconnect in communication and help you find problem areas. 

A professional can also help to diagnose any mental health issues that your teen might be suffering from. This form of treatment can last as little as a few months but possibly more.

After-School Programs

Keeping your teen out of trouble might be as easy as getting them involved. There are all different kinds of after-school activities that you can try. Maybe your teen needs to join a group like the YMCA or maybe they could help others through volunteer work or peer tutoring.

Residential Programs

Teens that are having problems with drugs or alcohol or that need to be removed from the family environment might find residential treatment options more beneficial. These can include a group home or therapeutic boarding school. It might also be a summer camp, Christian retreat or wilderness program.

Military School

Another option that parents might try is a military school. The structure and discipline offered through these types of programs can be beneficial to turning around troubled youth. Additionally, these programs are available on the long and short-term.

Solutions for Troubled Youth

As a parent, there are a lot of times when you will feel at your wits end. The teen years are just one of these. Much like the terrible two’s, the terrible teen years can leave you stressed and shaking your head. Understanding what to expect and how to handle out-of-control behavior can make sure that your parenting arsenal is always full.

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