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Why do teenage boys act out?

If your once-sweet, loving and obedient teenage son is out of control, you may feel overwhelmed. There are many reasons beyond the obvious -- stubbornness -- that can explain why your son is acting out. These reasons can stem from a desire to break away from his parents, peer conflicts and even difficulty learning the increasingly hard subject matter in school. The key is to recognize the behavior early and address it affects a child’s later opportunities for work and higher education.

Phase or New Lifestyle?

As parents, we can remember back to the time when we ourselves were teenagers, when rebelling against parents and society as a whole was part and parcel of being an adolescent. But when things go beyond the relatively harmless slamming of the door and sneaking out at night, you may wonder if this is just a phase or if it's a sign of a pattern emerging for the long haul.

It may help to look at your teenage son on a continuum, with different behavior types dominating different developmental stages. "Normal" adolescent behaviors include things that most kids go through at one time or another, such as becoming moody and withdrawn, slamming doors and stomping upstairs in frustration, refusing to do schoolwork, impatience, ignoring curfew and a general feeling of "no one understands me!" dominating their landscape at this time.

These are all ways teens prepare to separate from their parents and learn who they are on their own. However, in some teenage boys, situations can escalate pretty quickly and lead to a troublesome pattern of acting out, going beyond the typical behavior of an adolescent.

How Much Is Too Much?

It’s normal for teenage boys to challenge the boundaries that they’ve grown up with. They’re at a stage of life where they are sorting out their adult role. This can sometimes take a turn that their parents don’t appreciate. However, when you see a pattern of misbehavior, such as refusal to do schoolwork or consistently skipping classes, this may signal a much more concerning issue, and the earlier you step in to help your child, the better chance you'll have of pulling him out of it.

Tracing the Cause of Misbehavior

The worst thing you can do in this case is to assume your son will outgrow the behavior. If the behavior is consistent, it may be prompted by a cause that won’t go away. Teenage boys may resist explaining their behaviors, so parents are easily led to the conclusion that their sons are “just being stubborn” or would rather play video games. These conclusions are valid conclusions, but they aren’t the sole cause in every case.

Problems with school may well have causes rooted in school. Students may stop trying so hard in school if they have difficulty learning (whether from a learning disability or lack of adequate clarification), a conflict with a teacher, a conflict with classmates, or even being a victim of bullying. All of these factors can drive a student to dislike school and refuse to do the work associated with gaining an education, even if the problem isn’t with the material itself.

If this is the case, speaking with a student’s teachers or school administrators may help address the issue. If the conflicts cannot be resolved or adequate support cannot be given to the student, it may be wise to switch schools. High school is an important time, influencing the path students take through college and into their careers. To learn more about how Grand River Academy ensures the success of every student and creates equal learning opportunities, contact an admissions representative at Grand River.

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