What to Expect As Your Child Enters Their Teen Years

Teenage years are tumultuous for both teens and their parents. While some teens have a few minor problems during adolescence, others really struggle with personal and social issues. There are some behaviors you can expect to see in all teens, but parents need to watch for signs that the behavior has become a serious issue.

Pushing Boundaries and Testing Limits

All teens will question the rules and test the limits. They may come in after curfew, or neglect to do chores at home. It’s a way of testing you to see if you really mean to enforce the rules. It’s important to be clear with your teen about what you expect from them, and what consequences will follow if they behave well or if they break the rules. For example, if they come home by curfew, they can take the car and go out next weekend. If they come home late, they will not get to use the car.

Issues with Self-Esteem

Teens generally struggle to figure out who they are and what they want in life. Often, they feel socially awkward and have little self-confidence. Much of their self-image will be based on their relationships with other teens. While you want to be encouraging and supportive, you will also need to remind your teen of social skills such as showing compassion, courtesy, and respect toward others. These are skills that help with interpersonal relationships. Watch for signs of depression, severe anxiety, drug use, or self-harming behaviors.

Peer Influences

Teens care more about the opinions of their peers than their family. It’s natural for teens to begin to pull away from their parents emotionally and establish their own, separate identity. As a parent, you need to know your child’s friends and be aware of the things they do when they’re together.

Trying New Things

Being open-minded and trying new things is a sign of maturity. Encourage your teen to try new foods and new experiences, like taking a dance class, going kayaking, or learning a new skill. But watch for signs that your teen is experimenting with dangerous things like drugs, sex, or criminal activities.

Teenager Attitude

Most teens will go through periods when they are sarcastic, smart-mouthed, disrespectful, or argumentative. Don’t be surprised when your teen acts this way, and don’t take it personally. Also, don’t let it slide. An occasional slip can be reconciled with an apology, but when the attitude turns into open defiance and disregard for others, it is the sign of a deeper issue.

Responsibility and Maturity

Teens gradually begin to act in more mature and responsible ways - with occasional lapses. Parents need to establish consistent consequences for poor behavior to help teens learn that they will be held accountable for their choices and their actions. Sometimes a teen must face consequences imposed by their school or by the law. Let them learn from this experience.


Most teens lie in order to stay out of trouble. This is when parents explain that compounding the offense with a lie will result in more severe consequences than just admitting what they’ve done. However, if you are finding your teen lies continuously and cannot be trusted to tell the truth, it is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Asserting Independence

Teens will declare that they are ready to be independent, as long as you continue to finance their independence. They will want to choose their own clothes, decorate their bedroom, and make decisions based on their likes and preferences. They may even go through different phases in personal style, music choices, activities, and friends. This is a natural step in figuring out who they are and what they want to be.

When Your Teen’s Behavior Is Out of Control

When a teen’s behavior is out of control and he is showing signs of emotional, psychological, or behavioral problems, has a substance abuse problem, or has been in trouble with the law, parents may want to consider a school for troubled teens, such as Liahona Academy.

How Does Liahona Help Troubled Teens?

The staff at Liahona Academy is experienced, caring, and compassionate. Our goal is to help students to understand our behavior issues, and then learn how to develop positive, healthy behaviors, and build better relationships. Emphasis is on responsibility, accountability, and respect for self and for others.

Students at Liahona Academy are held accountable for their choices and their actions, which helps them to develop a sense of control over their behavior and their lives. The focus is not on punishment, but rather on consequences. Good choices result in rewards and freedoms. Bad choices result in rewards being withheld. Students are not told to surrender to authority, but they are taught to use their power of self-control to create the outcomes they desire. For example, one way that students are rewarded for good behavior is with participation in supervised activities such as, hiking, camping, water skiing, and swimming.

Family and peers are also a part of therapy at Liahona Academy. Teens see that their family loves and supports them as they go through the healing process. They understand that they are not alone in experiencing their troubles, and they help others facing the same difficulties. They learn to treat others with the same respect and compassion shown to them.

Speak Your Mind