Teenage Rebellion: How To Make Rules A Teenager Actually Listens

What Is Teenage Rebellion?

Teenage rebellion is normal; it plays an important part in adolescent growth. According to Carl E Pickhardt PhD, a psychologist and author of more than 15 parenting books; he breaks down teen rebellion into two basic groups.

The first group is a rebellion against society; also known as non-conformity. Your teenage sons and daughter may thus feel the need to appear a certain way in a protest against societal norms. The second type of rebellion is against adult authority; also known non-compliance. Both types of rebellion seek to attract adult attention by offending it.

Why Do They Rebel

Teenage rebellion, in short, is an act of assertion of independence. It’s not a new concept and rebelling in teenagers is often symbolic. They rebel against their parents to assert their independence. They rebel because they want to look grown up. They rebel because they want to impress their peers. They rebel because they want to look different. But why do they rebel?

  • Raging hormones; and a change in the brain structure.
  • They feel trapped; they have a desire to be independent.
  • Peer pressure; they listen to their friends for opinion on almost everything.
  • Impulsive decisions; they have a desire to seek thrill and ignore risks in favour of rewards in so doing.

Setting Appropriate Boundaries

Teenagers are hardwired to push boundaries and break rules. Setting up boundaries is important so that they know what and how to figure out their own limits. Health and safety related boundaries should always be the number one focus.

Of course, don’t expect them to listen. Work your way through it and learn by doing as you go along. Conflicts are unavoidable and empathy is important, so is explaining why the rules are there in the first place.

  • Establish rules that are actually important to your family.
  • Don’t be restrictive or authoritarian; be reasonable.
  • Don’t take them being over rebellious personally; they were wired to do so.
  • Pick your battles; not every single thing should be a dramatic fight.
  • Give them some space and time to obey your rules. If they broke one of the rules, listen to what they have to say first. Remember that rules shouldn’t be arbitrary.
  • Consult a mental health professional if you suspect that they may be struggling with more serious issues; depression, suicidal.


Francis, L. (2019, April 16). Teenagers Will (Probably) Respect Your Rules if You Follow These Principals. Retrieved March 21, 2020, from https://www.fatherly.com/parenting/rules-boundaries-teenagers-daughters/

Epstein, V., Epstein, V., & Epstein, V. (2018, December 04). Getting Teens to Obey You For Their Own Good. Retrieved March 21, 2020, from https://www.kars4kids.org/blog/parenting/getting-teens-obey-you-their-own-good/

Davis, J. (n.d.). Teenagers: Why Do They Rebel? Retrieved March 21, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/teenagers-why-do-they-rebel

Esposito, L. (2014, April 09). The Secret to Changing Rebellious Teens. Retrieved March 21, 2020, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-secret-to-changing-rebelious-teens_b_4746228?guccounter=1

Rebel with a Cause: Rebellion in Adolescence. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/200912/rebel-cause-rebellion-in-adolescence

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Editorial Team
Editorial Team
We take our responsibilities seriously as a provider of free parenting resources. Our published articles are therefore written based on evidence-based information parents can rely on. Parenthood is hard. But it’s also the most rewarding. Our first goal is thus to make sure our content is concise, accurate and accessible.