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Residential Treatment Center for Boys Ages 14-18

 > Behavioral Issues  > Calming the Storm: How to Handle a Teen Acting Out
teen acting out

Calming the Storm: How to Handle a Teen Acting Out

Calming the Storm: How to Handle a Teen Acting Out

Acting out can be a common side effect of adolescence, as teens try to work through raging hormonal changes, shifting interpersonal dynamics, and competing home and school interests. When teens are acting out, they are trying to test the limits, wondering what exactly they can get away with and what behaviors will be tolerated. While this is normal for teens, it can be scary for parents to feel like they have lost control of the situation. If your teen is exhibiting consistent defiance and engaging in negative, risky behavior, there are some tips you can follow to help manage the escalating situation.

Tips for dealing with a teen acting out

If trying to manage your teen’s negative behavior with your usual methods hasn’t resulted in positive change, it could be helpful to apply some new methods and perspectives. Below are some tips for helping out a teen who has been acting out:

  • Understanding the Teen Years: This is the phase of life where teens start to separate from their parents and become more independent. They want to spend more time with their friends and less time with their family. While this is normal developmentally, it can be a difficult transition for the family, resulting in hurt feelings and negative emotional responses. Talking to a professional about what behavior is typical for teens vs what is abnormal can be a helpful starting point. 
  • Set Clear Expectations: Setting clear expectations will let your teen know where boundaries exist and express to them that you care about their behavior and what happens to them. Even if teens don’t always agree with their parents’ expectations, they usually understand that they come from a loving place. 
  • Pay Positive Attention: It’s important to recognize when teens are doing the right thing rather than always focusing on when they make the wrong decisions. When teens are praised for positive behavior they realize that people appreciate the good things they do to contribute to family life. This can be as simple as thanking your teen when he volunteers to do something helpful.
  • Take a Break from Teaching and Judging: Teens are getting to a place where they do not need or want their parents’ help all the time, especially if that “help” is resulting in mostly negative interactions. If your teen already knows the expectations, try cutting back on giving directions and instructions all the time that could result in further fights. 
  • Connect with your Teen: Schedule enjoyable, quality one-on-one time with your teen without making any corrections, asking them any questions, or giving them any instructions. Even if your child is openly angry or hostile toward you, they still crave your love, attention, and acceptance. Try finding common ground to connect with your teen, offer to really be there for them without distractions, and be prepared for your first attempt to be met with rejection.
  • Try to Understand What’s Behind the Anger: If a teenager has an angry or violent reaction to a seemingly innocuous question, there is a deeper reason why your question triggered them. Calmly ask them why they are upset and let them know you are here for them to listen without judgment.

Sometimes teen behavior can get to the point where at-home interventions won’t be enough to put your child back on the right path. In these cases, therapeutic residential treatment centers can provide the all-encompassing care that your son needs.

Equinox is here to help your son

Equinox RTC is a residential treatment center for young men ages 14-18. We strive to infuse light into the lives of students who come to us seeking help with depression, anxiety, abuse and trauma, impulse control, addictive behavior, and defiance, among other behavioral/emotional struggles.

At Equinox RTC, we help students develop healthy habits through a relationship-based culture and an experiential approach to therapy. We focus on respected, evidence-based approaches to recovery that help teens build accountability, respect, and a solution-oriented approach to solving their challenges.

For more information about how we handle a teen acting out at Equinox, contact us today at (877) 279-8925