Adolescence is the time when children grow into independent adults. It usually begins at about age 10 years and lasts until the late teens or early 20s. But most people just think of adolescence as the teenage years.
Adolescents go through many physical, mental, and emotional changes. They're trying to figure out who they'll be as adults. As adolescents develop, they gradually spend more time behaving as adults and less time behaving as children.
What behavior problems do adolescents have?
Common behavior problems in adolescents include:
Drinking or using drugs
Risky sexual practices such as not using birth control or protection against STDs
Not doing homework and getting lower grades in school
Fighting or bullying
Running away from home
Being a member in a gang
Many adolescents try risky activities, such as driving too fast or drinking alcohol. Occasional bad judgment is different from serious misbehavior that requires professional help. Risky activities become behavior problems when adolescents do them a lot. Or if they do something very serious, such as hurting someone badly or using a weapon in a fight.
Why do adolescents have behavior problems?
Adolescence is a time for developing independence. Adolescents may want to show they're independent by questioning rules. Sometimes they break them. Because their brain isn't fully mature, they may make mistakes and have a hard time stopping their misbehavior.
Adolescents want to feel in control of their lives and may sometimes question or break rules
Adolescents are learning to be more independent but still need guidance from parents
Adolescents who feel love and support from parents are less likely to behave in risky ways
Doctors can help you tell what's normal behavior and what's a behavior problem and can tell when a problem is caused by a learning disability Learning Disorders Learning disorders are problems with the brain’s ability to get, remember, or use information. These problems make it hard to focus and do well in school. Children with learning disorders often... read more or mental health problem
Adolescents with behavior problems need professional help, such as substance abuse treatment or counseling
How can I prevent behavior problems in adolescents?
Limit the violence seen on television, through video games, in movies, and in the home
Tell adolescents clearly how you expect them to behave
Focus on your adolescent's actions instead of trying to control self-expression such as choice of clothing, hair style, and music
Use an authoritative parenting style (parenting that encourages good behavior but discourages bad)
What is an authoritative parenting style?
Authoritative parenting style means setting limits for adolescents but not making all of the decisions without getting their input:
Give your adolescent some chores, such as washing dishes, and some freedoms, such as picking out their clothes or decorating their room
Reward good behavior by gradually giving more responsibilities and freedom, such as using the car or going out with friends
Take away privileges if adolescents make poor choices or show they aren't ready for that responsibility
Watch their behavior to make sure they follow rules they have agreed to