One of the most common side effects of adolescence is acting out. Teenagers often do it when facing issues like shifting interpersonal dynamics, hormonal changes, and competing interests at home and school. Though acting out is normal for teens, parents often feel a lot of pressure in such situations and often don’t know which way is right. If your teen is also acting out and calling for attention, read on to know the signs and solutions to the situation.
Positive Ways of Acting Out
Teenagers act out in many positive and negative ways. Here are some positive ways of acting out that might signify that the teen is seeking attention.
- Getting High Grades at School
If a teenager wants the attention and admiration of their parents, they will secure good grades at school. It’s a positive thing because it will help them to secure admission to a university of their choice or might even help them win a scholarship.
Many teenagers choose this way of acting out because it helps them get satisfaction from their achievements.
- Doing Well in Extracurricular Activities
Some teens also do well in extracurricular activities like music, cultural activities, sports, etc. It helps them stay focused, feel motivated, and develop positive habits and behaviors. It also helps them win admiration and appreciation from their parents if they do well enough to secure a college seat or gain some fame or do well enough to make a career from it.
- Being More Involved
Another way teenagers seek the attention and admiration of their parents is by being more involved in the happenings around them. Such teens don’t hesitate to share their feelings and are open to new ideas. They are also outspoken and like to lead the pack. It helps them be the center of attention and be more popular than their peers.
- Inclined Towards Environmental Issues
In today’s time, environmental concerns like global warming and climate change are on everybody’s mind. All this also touches adolescents and teenagers. Many teenagers try to help the environment and get involved with environmental issues when acting out. They can form campaigns to gather funds or take initiatives to raise awareness about environmental concerns. Sometimes they also take their concerns about the environment into adulthood and become very conscious about protecting the environment.
In such situations, some parents support their teenagers and help them raise awareness or increase the reach of the campaigns. It can be a refreshing experience for both parties.
Negative ways of acting out
It is a fact that most teenagers don’t act out positively. Instead, they act out negatively. Here are some negative ways of acting out followed by teenagers.
- Eating Disorders
When children enter their teenage years, their bodies change constantly. They don’t like the new body and switch to methods like dieting to look and feel better. Sometimes teenagers can take things to the extreme and develop eating disorders. They might also follow dieting trends that are not healthy for their body and mind. In some cases, it can lead to serious health issues or self-image issues that a person will have to deal with even as an adult.
- Consuming Unhealthy and Addictive Products
In some cases, teenagers act out by bowing to peer pressure and consuming unhealthy and addictive products, like drugs, alcohol, or even smoking cigarettes. Sometimes, they do it to get some reaction from their parents. It’s also a plea for attention.
- Suicide Attempts
In extreme cases, when teenagers feel abandoned by their family and friends, they might use suicide to seek attention. It is a drastic step that can make people panic and change their thinking patterns. Parents can prevent it by looking for signs of depression and seeking therapy if needed.
- Running Away from Home
Some teenagers also seek attention by running away from home. Most teens who feel misunderstood or misjudged by their parents take this drastic step. Usually, teens return after a while, and no harm is done. This attempt is usually made because teens feel that they don’t have anybody at home who understands them, and they would be better off alone or in the company of like-minded people – like their friends, girlfriend, or boyfriend.
- Being Aggressive and Rebellious
Another common way for teenagers to attract attention is to show aggression and rebellion. They get angry over trivial things and talk back, often rudely. They also develop a habit of doing the exact opposite of what their parents want them to do. Whenever parents ask them to do one thing, a rebellious or aggressive teenager would either lash out or do the exact opposite of what’s asked. In some cases, they might also get involved in something illegal and deal with profound consequences like facing the police.
How to Manage a Teen Acting Out- Some Solutions That Might Help
Whenever a teen starts acting out, the parents need to be concerned. Even if a teen is acting out positively, you need to watch them if their behavior turns towards negative ways of acting out. If your teen is indulging in negative ways of acting out and you are looking for solutions that help, read on. Here are some things that might help.
- Understand the Teen Years
Before you take any action against a teen acting out, you need to know more about the teen years. You need to understand what your teen is going through. A teen will start to become separate from their parents and seek more independence. They crave more time with people of their age and less family time. So, you should avoid giving emotional responses to their actions and put yourself in their shoes. Talk to a teen expert if possible.
- Set Clear Expectations
As a parent, you must set expectations for your children at every stage of their lives. Teenagers’ years are not different. You need to express clearly what you expect from them and what the consequences will be if they don’t meet those expectations. You also need to make them understand that the expectations are for their benefit, and you love them, so you want the best for them.
- Pay Attention
It is also essential for parents of teenagers to pay positive attention to the teens. If your teen thinks they are getting enough positive attention from you, they might not even act out. Appreciate your teen’s good things and don’t always think of the negatives. Teenagers crave positive appreciation so give them that easily and often.
- Don’t Instruct All the Time
As parents, we have an urge to instruct our kids and teens all the time. We don’t want them to go wrong or make mistakes. But it would help if you realized that too much instruction giving could make a teen feel suffocated. They crave independence, so let them be. Let them learn from their mistakes and do well on their own while you observe from a distance.
- Don’t Judge
Teenagers want to be accepted for who they are. As a parent, you should try not to judge them too harshly for their choices. Show them that you would love them for who they are and who they become in the future.
- Connect with the Teen
Ensure that you connect with your teen by regularly spending quality time with them. This time should not include any investigations of their actions or questions about their behavior. It should just be about doing things that you both like. If you haven’t spent quality time with your teen in a while, you should start connecting with them now. Be ready for the initial rejection of the quality time idea and keep at it until they agree.
- Understand the Underlying Cause
If you think your teen is overreacting about insignificant things and getting too angry over petty things, you need to ensure that you find the underlying cause of the anger. Let them get over their anger and talk to them gently about what triggers them. Make a note of all triggers and consider anger management if needed.
- Seek Additional Help
Seek the help of experts like therapists or doctors or therapeutic residential treatment centers to help your teen if things seem to be going out of control.
You can also reach out to me, Michelle Mehta, a certified professional co-active coach, an Associate Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, and a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner.
I am passionate about helping teenagers feel authentic, empowered, worthy, loved and helping them create a sense of belonging and believe that the world needs their talents. So, if you feel you’re called to have your teenager work with me, let’s set up a time to talk and connect. I look forward to Empowering Your Teenager to Shine with Confidence. To know more, click here