What Parents Should Know About Risky Teen Behaviors

Last week, I talked about the spike in conflict that typically occurs between parents and teens. This increased conflict is a characteristic of the Storm and Stress of adolescence. You can read that post here.

Another hallmark characteristic of teenage Storm and Stress includes participating in risky behaviors. According to US News, there are several risky behaviors teens are engaging in, and parents should be on the lookout for.

  • Abusing ADHD drugs such as Adderal
  • Abusing the pain relief drug OxyContin
  • Alcohol and illicit drug use
  • Riding in a car with intoxicated driver

Parents can curb these through open communication, monitoring, and supervising their teenager’s activities. Monitoring equates to “keeping tabs.” How do you monitor? By asking these kinds of questions:

  • Who are you hanging out with/ meeting up with later?
  • Where are you going?

On the other hand, supervision is the direct observation of your teen. Some ideas to create supervised activities include:

  • Setting up a game room or TV room for your teen to invite friends over
  • Create a profile on Facebook so you can observe online interactions

Teenagers are susceptible to thinking they are invincible. As a parent, you need to set rules and limits to protect your teen’s health and well-being.

Managing Conflict With Your Teen

I want you to take a moment to recall your teenage years. Were they generally positive? Negative? Somewhere in between?

One view of adolescence, originally coined by G. Stanley Hall, is Storm and Stress. According to the theory, adolescence is characterized by:

  • Increased mood disruptions
  • Increased involvement in risky behavior
  • Increased conflict with parents

Although these components of storm and stress do not generalize to all teenagers, most parents may recognize degrees of each in their teenagers.

One reason that parents experience more conflict with their teens during this period is due to an adolescent’s growing need for independence, and parents pacing the amount of appropriate autonomy.

What do you and your teen argue about? Curfew? Clothes? Where and who they spend their time with?

The common denominator here is independence. Conflict emerges when adolescents want more autonomy than age-appropriate, and you as a parent must set limits.

Parents need to set limits, but allow teenagers autonomy within these limits. Allowing a teen to practice independent decision-making within a set of rules or guidelines will keep them on track to becoming a mature, self-reliant adult.