Rebellious behavior in teenage years is, of course, normal. However, for those who grow up in a household in which they are abused ( physically, sexually or emotionally) their level of rebelliousness may be particularly severe.
Types of rebellious behavior are varied, but may include:
– aggressive behavior (both verbal and physical, including getting into fights. Especially likely to occur if parents are aggressive/violent).
– shop-lifting and other forms of petty theft
– stealing cars and joyriding
– bullying of others (especially if humiliated or beaten at home)
– starting to smoke and drink at an unusually young age
– starting fires (eg in litterbins)
– drug use
– truanting from school or dropping out of school altogether
– neglect of schoolwork/academic underachievement
– teenage pregnancy
Rebellious children displaying the kinds of symptoms listed above will often gravitate socially towards similar children who are themselves likely to have problems at home (the so-called ‘getting in with the wrong crowd’). In this way, these children may form gangs which not infrequently come into conflict with the law.
Such children often also have low sdlf-esteem (which they may attempt to mask with bravado), behave in self-sabotaging ways and suffer from both anxiety and depression.
It is likely that their parents have emotionally distanced themselves from the psychological harm they are inflicting upon their children but are instead focused on exercising power and control over them, rather than nurturing them and fulfilling their emotional and psychological individual needs.
Because of this dysfunctional parenting, the child is also likely to develop low expectations of life, thus becoming devoid of ambition, feeling helpless and that there is no hope which, in turn, can cause a complete lack of motivation to try to improve his/her situation. The child’s attitude may well become: ‘there’s no point in trying to improve life as whatever I do will make no difference.’ Psychologists refer to this as learned helplessness (click here to read my article on this).
When these children become adults, they often develop difficulties both forming and maintaining relationships (click here to read my article on this), and, in some cases, find that they, too, have difficulties parenting their own children. This, however, will by no means inevitably be the case.
Living With Rebellious Teenagers (download): CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).