Teenage rebellion and defiance is not a new concept for us, especially for parents. Most of us correlate this with constant yelling, shoplifting, slamming doors, and coming home beyond curfew hours. Most teenagers undergo this phase. Hence, it is crucial to understand why your teen is acting this way to be able to address this issue properly fully.
Why Do Teenagers Rebel?
All teenagers go through similar phases more or less. It’s part of growing up. This similar phase usually starts with the need for independence and freedom, understanding their own identity, and testing their authority. According to Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC, “Rebellion in teens can be secretive or obvious depending on the personality of the teenager and the circumstances.” Some of this defiance is also linked to brain developmental changes and social pressures. Here are some of the reasons why teenagers rebel:
- Brain Developmental Changes
As a person enters teenage years, a part of his or her brain called prefrontal cortex is developing. This part of the brain is a person’s judgment center and thinking cap. The prefrontal cortex is where each teenager develops his or her ideas and ideals. As the prefrontal cortex develops, it is more capable of synthesizing information into ideas – leading to more arguments and discussions.
- Identity Crisis
When children enter their adolescent years, they usually question their own identity. They typically retort to questioning themselves with their purpose in life, what they are supposed to be doing, who they really are, and more. They usually try new things in this phase to be able to find answers in the said questions. They even retort to unwanted actions as a way to establish their own identity. According to Dr. Clayton Lessor, Licensed Professional Counselor “the best way to deal with teenage rebellion is (employing) natural consequences.”
Struggling for their freedom and independence may be one of the underlying reasons for teenage rebellion. As they move into their adolescence stages, they expect more space from their family, especially with their parents. This demand is normal for every teenager. Bella Stitt, LMFT says “During adolescence, teens experience rapid physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, and social developmental changes. In addition, teens are often faced with a brand-new set of responsibilities and privileges, causing them to swing back and forth between dependence and independence.”
However, the rebellion starts when some parents unconsciously confuse rebellion with independence. For example, many parents do now allow their kids to hang out in malls since they are scared that their children might get into trouble. This move might eventually force your teenagers to sneak out without permission.
How Does Writing Therapy Help Rebellious Teenagers?
Writing therapy, also called journal therapy, is an approach utilized by various therapists to guide teenagers into verbalizing their feelings and emotions in written words. This exercise is usually used to open a conversation between therapists and their respective patients. Writing therapy includes creating the following:
- Humorous stories
- Short stories
- Free space journals
This kind of treatment approach usually determines the teen’s recurring problems and work through these painful feelings. By knowing what the roots of their rebellious actions are, it would be easier for the therapist to come up with strategies that can help them overcome these challenges. In addition, writing therapy also helps relieve stress and make connections between their behaviors and their feelings.
Examples Of Writing Therapy
Any teenager facing life challenges can do try writing therapy. In this therapy, they are free to express whatever they are feeling or whatever comes into their minds. Listed below are some of the examples of writing therapy:
- Write a story about your own life. It can be fictional but make sure that the character mirrors some part of you.
- Create a letter to an individual that you feel angry at. It can help you to sort out your feelings towards them.
- Write a poem that can help you express your negative emotions.
- Start a daily diary where you can confide in your feelings. This practice can help you understand yourself more by reading your past entries.
There are several other ways to address a teenagers’ rebellion. Writing therapy can be a start. Take note, however, that journaling is not enough. It may help them express their emotions privately, but some teenagers may require extra help in interpreting and taking action on their journal entries through trained therapists. Hopefully, undergoing this process may help them deviate from their rebellious acts.
Many parents and teens debate over whether curfews are productive or not. Some say that it establishes responsibility. Some believe that it’s too controlling over teenagers, and only encourages rebellion.
Those on the fence may say that it’s beneficial to set a general time when kids should be home, but allow them to break it now and then. Whichever side you’re on as a parent or a teenager, it always bests that it’s discussed, with the interests of each party being considered.
Teenagers should be empowered to have some say on this issue. Certain conditions can be set, and a compromise can be made. Some teenagers even argue that they feel like they benefit from a curfew. Here are some of the things that teens believe to be the advantages of curfews.
Gets Them Out of Crime
It isn’t so much about being involved in crime. It’s about teens avoiding being exposed to criminal activities. Admittedly, an offense doesn’t only take place at night. However, the propensity of violent crime tends to go up after the sun sets.
Teens who may find themselves walking home alone at night may risk getting mugged and hurt. Establishing a general time for them to be home by lessens the possibility of them being exposed to crime.
Lets Them Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
Anyone who’s seen a college party – on TV or in person – or any movie about teen parties knows that there’s likely to be alcohol involved somehow. While we can still teach our children right about drugs and alcohol – whether banning it or allowing it in moderation – we know that we can’t keep watch over them all the time.
Teens may be smart enough to know to avoid it, but peer pressure is a real thing. At the same time, some people may be tricked into taking something they’re not fully aware of. Again, this may happen at any time of the day, but the odds of it happening go up at night. Avoid your teens becoming exposed to this kind of environment by having them follow a general curfew.
Allows Them To Get More Sleep
Sleep is something we tend to take for granted. As kids, we dreamt about the times we wouldn’t have a bedtime, and we could just stay up all night. At some point, usually around college, we tend to cherish the moments we get to sleep. Even more so as adults, we tend to regret not having a healthy sleep schedule.
By setting a curfew, we help our teens get more sleep. While we can’t be sure that they go to bed when they’re at home, we lessen the things that might keep them up late at night.
Ever wonder why we find it so difficult to get out of bed sometimes? Or why we can’t manage to motivate ourselves to start a new project? The reason maybe is that it’s relatively new to us and we haven’t gotten used to it yet. Maybe we slept in over the weekend or stayed up too late.
However, notice that as you do something more often, you get used to it. It becomes significantly easier to get stuff done after you’ve done it for a while. This is also applied to teens with a curfew. By setting a time for them to be home by, you also establish a sense of routine. It’s likely that they’ll be asleep earlier and be up more prior.
It’ll also be possible that if they can consistently follow something such as a curfew, they can also support other simple goals and tasks for themselves in the future. They’ll be able to develop a routine that they set for themselves, guided by their curfew.
As a contribution on your side as a parent, you can also try working with and contacting a professional therapist to bring their expert perspective to the table. There’s no shame in asking for help as long as it’s beneficial for you and your kids.
“Seeing the world through the eyes of a child” might seem to imply boundless wonder, joy, and acceptance; unfortunately, this is not always the case. Children of any age have stresses and disappointments in their lives. The particular form these might take will be different from those in an adult’s life, but that does not mean that their experiences are any less valid, nor that the emotions resulting from these are any less real.