Select Region
Helping Parents Make Better Decisions
Enter now to win a FREE visit to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Why Your Teenager Is Driving You Crazy

Why Your Teenager Is Driving You Crazy

There is a reason your teen making bad or questionable decisions is the (unfortunate) norm in the adolescent years. But don’t worry! It’s just a phase.

You probably know that some bad behavior often comes with having a teenager–whether it’s making choices without regard to consequences, questioning authority (aka parents and teachers), or just become more distant. It can feel like your teenager is driving you crazy, making this a challenging time for both parent and child–and it can be hard to understand why our kids are acting out. However, we asked experts to give us the reasons behind why teenagers act out or stay silent, so you can discover better ways to cope and communicate with yours.


Their Brains Work Against Them

“While teenagers’ brains are growing at a rapid rate, they are still many years away from maturity—as brains typically complete growth at age twenty-five,” says David Ezell, founder and CEO of Darien Wellness, a counseling and psychiatry group in Darien, CT. “The last part of the brain to develop is the frontal cortex, which is the part that contains the executive functioning area and is involved with abstract thought, planning, and impulse control.”

What does this mean for your teen who is juggling many new thoughts and emotions? “Executive functions allow us to plan and see consequences,” Ezell says. “So, what adults perceive to be obviously ‘risky’ behavior does not seem that way to teenagers because their brains have difficulty connecting today to tomorrow. The combination of a lack of experience and a developing brain sets young people up to put themselves in situations that most adults would consider to be very dangerous.”


They Lack Experience

There’s another very important reason your teens are acting out, and it’s actually quite simple: Teenagers haven’t had anywhere near the life experience you’ve had.

“As adults, we know that if we don’t pay the ConEd bill, the lights will be turned off,” Ezell says. “Most teens lack that experience of cause and effect, nor have they seen their peers experience a similar situation.”

Remember: Being a teenager is a developmental stage, albeit one that may involve intense mood swings, lying, social media obsession, and trading communication with you for spending way more time with his friends.

“This is a time when a child is going from being a child to becoming an independent adult, which is also why there is so much change happening in their body, minds, and actions,” says Shuli Sandler, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in Teaneck, NJ. “A lot of this time is about figuring out who they are and part of that is pushing limits in the service of that exploration and discovery.”


Hormones are Surging

Along with changing bodies come changing hormones, which play a large role in what teens are feeling.

“All of these new hormones can also contribute to a lack of impulse control,” says Nikita Banks, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Brooklyn. “Think about all that your teen is juggling. She is both trying to figure out who she is as an individual and find her place in society, which is a very big transition. To do this, she may pull away or test the values of her family and adapt behaviors that will be seen as more desirable to her peer group. When you put all of these factors together it can make for one wild ride.”

With this surge in independence, teens may push the envelope to see how far they can push you.

“The goal you hope for as a parent is for your teen to ultimately end up in the middle where he takes appropriate risks but uses caution and prudence when indicated,” Dr. Sandler says. “It does take time for the two extremes to settle down in the middle, as is often the case in life.”


What You Can Do

Given all of this change, keeping the lines of communication open with your teen is very important—especially when he makes bad or questionable choices. Plan regular outings together or eat meals as a family to bridge the gaps and enable everyone to feel heard.

“This time together is very important, and it serves another purpose, too. It’s actually a really good way to get an inside view of what is going on in their life,” Banks says. “Your goal should be twofold: You want to monitor their social interactions with friends to the best of your ability, but also give your child a voice.”

After all, any strong connection you can keep with your teen is crucial and will help ease the very important transition she is moving through.

“When teens feel that they are not only seen but heard at home, it helps them develop a greater sense of self-esteem,” Banks adds. “It also provides a strong foundation for them to be able to withstand the social pressures of this time of life.”

Want more content like this? Great Family Activities Sent To You!

More Parenting Articles:

22 Role Models for Girls That Will Empower Your Kids

Here are 22 role models for girls that any kid can look to for inspiration and motivation.

Latest News:

College Board Will No Longer Offer SAT Subject Tests or SAT Essay

College Board announced a variety of changes to the SAT exams for the 2020-2021 school year.

Family Activities:

Register for Inaugural AHA Middle School Open House

Academy of the Holy Angels Apr. 21, 2021

Registration for the Inaugural Academy of the Holy Angels Middle School Open House is underway. S...

Have a Laugh:

Best Memes of the Week for Parents

Here are the funniest parenting memes from Instagram, Facebook, and Reddit this week.

Author: Lambeth Hochwald is a New York City-based journalist covering trends, relationships, and life in New York City. See More

Featured Listings:

Kreative Kids & Vicki's Dance Studio

Kreative Kids & Vicki's Dance Studio

New City, NY For over 29 years, Kreative Kids has provided a nurturing and fun-filled toddler/nursery program where classes are kept small for individualized atten...

Camp East Woods

Camp East Woods

Oyster Bay, Conveniently located "on the hill" in Oyster Bay, our facilities expand over 46-acres and offer rain or shine accommodations: two gymnasiums, a theate...

Great Strides Long Island

Great Strides Long Island

Middle Island, New York Great Strides Long Island has been offering riding lessons, birthday parties and summer program activities built around our beautiful horses on our 15...