Adolescent behavior: Are They Rebellions or Just Hormones?

Prerana M Krishna

Prerana M Krishna


State of change from childhood to adulthood is adolescence, characterized by changing parent-child dynamics. Shift in attitude of the child is determined by social activities, peer groups etc which are monitored by the parent. An adolescent often pushes for more freedom and autonomy from the parent, which is perceived as being defiant or disrespectful of parental authority. 

What are some causes of defiant behaviors? What are some of the behaviors?

Adolescents push for autonomy to be more independent. Parents who understand this need concede control for the teenager and guide them only where they perceive the child’s knowledge is limited. Generally, boys are provided more autonomy than girls in many social set-ups. When this need for autonomy is denied and authoritarian parenting is enforced, children tend to rebel. The flip side are neglectful and indulgent parenting, wherein children end up with lower social competence and a general lack of self control. Such children tend to be more impulsive and reckless.

Some examples of defiant behaviors are, lack of respect for authority, talking back, revenge seeking, defacing public property, disobeying, spiteful attitude etc.

Who shows defiant behaviors what role does parenting have to do with it?

Generally, children and teenagers exhibit defiant behaviors. Mood swings, hormonal changes, need for independence and changing idea of self are usual reasons for variance in behaviors among teenagers. Diana Baumrind provides parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, neglectful, indulgent which determines how the child is nurtured and its relevance towards the child’s behavior. Of the four, authoritarian is regarded as the best parenting style where the child is given their independence but with limits and controls. Authoritative parenting is excessively strict and the parent-child relationship isn’t nurtured. Neglectful parenting, wherein the parents are not involved in the child’s life. Indulgent, in which parents give in to all the whims of the child. Neglectful and indulgent are detriment to building self-control and equipping the child with social cues. 

How to cope with defiant behaviors, and way forward.

Parent-adolescent conflict is usually over trivial things, like keeping one’s room clean or being more responsible. The lesson taught by the parent serves as a positive development function easing the teenager out of dependence on parents into autonomy. Yelling, screaming, corporal punishment, physical abuse, are out-of-control coping mechanisms. These are often used by parents to resolve an issue with an unyielding teen. Communication, time and patience are constructive ways for parents to lead the child into conflict resolution. The out-of-control coping mechanisms begets temporary relief that is harmful for the teenager and introduces them to unhealthy forms of expressing their dissent and anger.