Navigating the tumultuous waters of adolescence can be challenging for both parents and teenagers alike. Adolescence is a time of rapid physical, emotional, and cognitive changes. It's not uncommon for teenagers to exhibit behaviors that might seem out of control. As parents, it's essential to approach this phase with empathy, understanding, and effective strategies to help manage an out of control teenager.

The goal is not to “control” your teenager but to help them behave in a healthy manner. As children grow, the level of authority we have over their lives naturally diminishes. The goal is to move them to healthy adult functioning, not to be in control of their lives or actions. If your goal is to control your teen, even for their own good, you will find them increasingly rebellious.

We would strongly recommend checking out our video series In Crisis? Start Here for a good understanding of how to help your out of control teenager.

Lead by Example

Youth Treatment CentreWhen nothing else seems to work and no modes of communication are open, you can still role model desired action. An out of control teenager will see straight through the hypocrisy of a, “do as I say, not as I do,” parent. Are there actions or behaviours in your life that need addressing?

Teenagers often look to their parents as role models, even if they don't always show it. Demonstrate the values, behaviors, and coping mechanisms you want your teen to adopt. Model healthy ways of handling stress, conflicts, and setbacks. When they see you managing your emotions effectively, they are more likely to follow suit.

Set Clear Boundaries

While it's crucial to allow your teenager some autonomy, setting clear boundaries is equally important. Establish guidelines for acceptable behavior, responsibilities, and consequences for breaking rules. Ensure the consequences are swift, strong enough to get attention, and short-term, focusing on teaching lessons rather than punitive measures. When boundaries are communicated and upheld consistently, teenagers often feel more secure and understand the importance of accountability.

Open and Respectful Communication

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any healthy parent-teenager relationship. Create an environment where your teenager feels comfortable expressing their thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment or punishment. Actively listen to their concerns, opinions, and experiences. Avoid interrupting or immediately offering solutions – sometimes, they just need a safe space to vent. By fostering open, respectful dialogue, you can build trust and strengthen your connection.

Be an Active Listener

Teenagers often face stressors and pressures from various sources, such as school, peers, and social media. Be attentive to their emotional well-being and offer your support. Sometimes, a listening ear is all they need to feel understood and validated. Show empathy by acknowledging their feelings, even if you disagree with their perspective. This will help your child feel heard and make them more willing to open up to you.

Listening more than you speak, summarize what they are saying, and offer advice only when requested. After summarizing their thoughts, ask, “Would you like to hear my opinion?” But do not force your viewpoint on them. If they don’t want to hear your thoughts, even the most thoughtful words will fall on deaf ears. Show them first that you are able to listen.

Encourage Healthy Outlets

Channeling pent-up emotions and energy into positive activities can help teenagers regain a sense of control. Encourage them to explore hobbies, sports, arts, or other creative outlets that interest them. Physical activity, in particular, can be a powerful way to manage stress and boost mood. By focusing on their passions, teenagers can develop a sense of purpose and achievement.

Foster Independence Gradually

Part of adolescence involves establishing one's identity and gaining independence. Encourage your teenager to take on age-appropriate responsibilities and make decisions within a controlled framework. Gradually giving them more autonomy can help them develop a sense of agency while still benefiting from your guidance.

Seek professional help

If your teen's behavior is consistently destructive or endangering, consider seeking professional help. A licensed therapist, counselor, or psychologist can provide valuable insights and strategies for you and your teenager. Therapy can offer a safe space for teenagers to explore their feelings, learn coping mechanisms, and develop healthier communication skills.

Being an out of control teenager can have lasting repercussions. Organizations like Rock Solid Refuge may also be a consideration for moving forward in a positive manner.

Again, we recommend watching the In Crisis? Start Here video series that dives into these topics in far greater detail.


Helping an out of control teenager requires patience, understanding, and a willingness to adapt your parenting approach. Remember that this phase is temporary, and with your guidance, your teenager can emerge from it as a well-adjusted, responsible, and confident individual. By maintaining open communication, setting clear boundaries, encouraging healthy outlets, and seeking professional help when needed, you can navigate this challenging period together and strengthen the parent-child bond.

We hope that this content has been informative and helpful. It is our desire to help families and bring struggling teens back together. We encourage you to share this information with others who may be in need.

Our ministry is primarily funded by our supporters, both individuals and churches, who partner with us to bring about restoration in these young men's lives. To join them in supporting Rock Solid Refuge and our ongoing ministry, please click here to donate!

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