My Teenager is Out of Control

Adolescence can be a difficult time for both parents and teens. You may find yourself puzzled, angry, frustrated, or even hurt as your child navigates this difficult transitional phase. Having worked extensively with teenagers and their families, I have noticed several common problems and obstacles that continue to challenge even the most resilient of family systems.

Opposition, Defiance, and Rebellion

Parents often struggle with rebellious and oppositional teens. There are many reasons that adolescents become angry or defiant; I will not attempt to delve into all of those various reasons in this article. However, keep in mind that during this stage of development, testing parents’ limits and boundaries is fairly typical. It does not always indicate a serious or underlying problem.

Tips for Parents with Teenagers

  • Teenagers are not miniature adults, and do not think as adults do. Not only is adolescence a time where kids are extremely egocentric, but their brains are also not yet fully developed. *Especially in the areas of the brain that control impulsivity, critical thinking, and reasoning.
  • Teenagers may benefit the most from clear, consistent rules and boundaries. It is important that parents learn how to give their child/children permission and space to explore who they are. However it is also appropriate for parents to set firm, consistent boundaries to protect teens from engaging in activities that are unsafe or harmful.
  • Remember you were once a teenager too. Teenagers face many difficult obstacles: peer pressure to engage in risk-taking behaviors, drugs, alcohol, the need for attention from the opposite sex, and bullying just to name a few. Adolescence is a fragile stage for many, with self-esteem teetering on the intense pressure to “fit in.”
  • Be aware of the potential of mixed messages. Teens will often cry out for love and attention only then to respond by rejecting their parents. My work with families is to help teenagers find a way to better process and explore these feelings, and to help negotiate the changes needed in the family system.

Warning Signs of A Bigger Problem:

Teens will be teens, but there are several warning signs that may indicate a bigger problem. Here are some red flags to look out for with your teenager, which may require immediate intervention:

  1. Suicidal threats, self-mutilation: Is your child threatening to harm to him/herself? It is crucial that you either call 911 or take your child to the nearest emergency room to be evaluated. After this, it is advisable to seek professional therapy for your child.
  2. Does your teen cycle through rapid weight loss, over-exercise, vomiting, or obsessive focus on body weight? These are all signs that your child could be suffering from an eating disorder. One crucial factor in eating disorder recovery is early intervention. Your child will also need to be under the supervision of a physician, to ensure that the eating disorder is not causing medical problems that need to be immediately addressed.
  3. Does your teen seek extreme isolation, show loss of interest in activities, irritability, or changes in eating/sleeping habits? This may indicate a possible mood disorder, such as depression.
  4. Does your teen show signs of drug and/or alcohol abuse? If your teenager is experimenting or abusing drugs and alcohol, it is important to seek treatment for them as soon as possible. This is another instance where early intervention and treatment shows a better prognosis.

Seeking Professional Help

Teenagers are very often resistant in seeking help for their problems – especially with a therapist. Teenagers frequently remark to me that they are “not crazy,” as they very often have preconceived ideas (as we all do) about what therapy entails. If a therapist is able to make a connection with your teen, eventually the resistance will subside. A therapist can then nurture the process of establishing a relationship to begin the healing and growing process for your child. I have extensive experience working with troubled teens and their families. My office locations are in Claremont, CA and Cypress, CA. Feel free to contact me at 562-281-7752 with any questions or to set up an appointment.

My Qualifications

  • • Licensed MFT
  • • MFC #47955
  • • Certified Eating Disorder Specialist
  • • Certified Eating Disorder Specialist Supervisor
  • • Certified EMDR Therapist
  • • Tri Lingual Capabilities
  • • 15+ Years of Experience
  • • Professional Associations:

  • Professional Associations

    My Office / Location

    219 N. Indian Hill Blvd. Suite 201
    Claremont CA 91711
    Phone: (562) 281-7752