This week we are talking about 7 reasons for teen misbehavior, taken by the book "Parenting Your Out-Of-Control Teenager" by Scott Sells. This book is very informative and helpful for parents with teens. So far this week we have given 4 reasons to understand why your teen might be misbehaving. Here are 2 more. Reason #5: The Pleasure Principle
Do you find yourself lecturing your teenager only to find them turning around and doing the exact thing you were talking them out of? There is a reason for this- teens have difficulty seeing beyond the moment. They have challenges thinking about consequences that may happen to them if they do something today. This is what we know to be called the pleasure principle- doing something for immediate pleasure.
Unfortunately, cell phones, email, text messages etc. have made this worse. Teens rarely have to wait for correspondence, thus numbing their ability to be patient. This feeds into their unwillingness to wait. They often feel entitled to be heard, seen, waited on, talked to, answered, and noticed....NOW! Honestly, we all do now. And teens usually felt that way before the information boom!
For example, when you are giving a consequence that they will not be able to drive your car if they get another ticket, they still want to speed. In the moment, the pain of getting the car taken away is not there. And they want to get to where they are going NOW. So most likely, teens that are having problems with their behavior will not stop themselves and will speed. It's not that they don't care about the consequence, but what they want in the here and now is stronger than what "might" happen to them. Thus they give into the pleasure principle.
Reason #6: Peer Power
Being a teen can be lonely and confusing- we all remember these times. Teens want to gain more independence and naturally pull away from their parents. However, they also want to be able to depend on their parents for love, safety, and security. So it can feel conflicting.
In order to cope with this conflict, it's normal for kids to try to find a group of friends that they really "click" with. Ones they look like, act like, and enjoy doing the same things. This can be good and bad. If the kids are into positive activities and dress appropriately, it's great. But if they are into trouble and dressing inappropriately, it can be a challenge. Who they are hanging out with is usually a top reason for teen misbehavior.
Hopefully this information will give you some insight into what might be going on with your teen. It's important to remember that teens don't usually just start misbehaving in a vacuum. Usually something is going on for them to act out in negative ways. These reasons we have given that Scott talks about may explain the why of the behavior, but there could be something deeper going on as well. If so, it might be a good idea to get them in to talk to someone that is confidential and that they can trust. You don't want misbehaviors to just be looked at as "normal" because they are teens. You want to make sure something deeper isn't going on.
Tomorrow Joleen will finish us out with another reason for teen misbehavior. Thank you for reading and I wish you luck with your teen!
Written by Natalie Chandler
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville