What should you do when your daughter is acting out?
As a parent, you face the hardest job you’ve ever had. Young women in their teens are changing drastically and may struggle with the process. While some difficult teen behaviors are normal, some behaviors go too far. Defiant teenage girls that put themselves at risk or show utter disrespect, teen girls practicing self-harm, dangerous threats or manipulation of others—these are all behaviors that cross that line.
If you are worried about your teenage daughter, this blog is for you. We want to explore normal and abnormal teen girl behavior.
Is My Teenage Daughter’s Behavior Normal?
Everyone deals with their teen years in their own way. As bodies change, hormones shift and pressures increase, adolescent girls face a lot of challenges. If your daughter is missing curfew by an hour or getting into screaming matches with you over poor choices, you may be thinking, “Help! My daughter is completely out of control!”
Your teen is highly likely to exhibit some extremely irritating behaviors that may feel unbearable, but are part of a completely normal adolescent phase. This could include:
- Avoiding family time in an effort to gain independence
- Taking control of life and rejecting parental advice
- Short-term vision that might be focused on friends and fun over her future
- Struggling to define direction–especially school and career choices
- Low self-esteem or sudden insecurities
- Outbursts, high emotions and irritability
- Testing boundaries and taking unwise risks
- Attaching self-worth material things or physical characteristics
These are all normal behaviors for a teenage girl, but that doesn’t mean they should go unchecked. In many cases, you will need to set boundaries and outline clear expectations. Easier said than done, right?
How should I deal with difficult teen behavior?
When your teen is acting out in normal adolescent behavior, it can be hard to know how to respond. Your teen is no longer a child, but they are not yet an adult. To keep your teenager’s behavior from worsening, you will want to:
- Establish clear expectations that are fair and reasonable—and stick to them
- Start with small freedoms before offering larger opportunities to prove responsibility
- Encourage expression of feelings through talking or writing
- Support special talents (sports, acting, music, art, dance) that provide purpose
- Set curfews and check-ins frequently as a safety protocol
- Respect private space as much as possible (but not if you are concerned about safety)
- Don’t pick at personal aesthetic, clothes, music—she is exploring her tastes
- Try not to overreact, especially to failures or mistakes
When is Teen Behavior Dangerous?
As a parent, it’s natural to want to excuse your teen’s behavior. You may wonder in the back of your head if this is normal teenage girl behavior, but you will push aside those fears with the unwillingness to take a more consequential step. More than likely, you are afraid that calling the police on your troubled teenager would lead to a bigger chasm in your relationship and start a criminal history. You don’t want to open a can of worms—especially if you aren’t sure it will help your out of control daughter.
But, there is a time when you need to take your teenage daughter’s behavior much more seriously. If your daughter is sneaking out to meet bad characters after curfew or calling you disgusting names, the line has been crossed. Teen behavior can quickly shift from irritating and obnoxious to a threat. If you feel your teen could hurt herself or others with her behavior, then you need to take a much more radical approach.
Risk behaviors that may signal a deeper issue.
Unlike typical teen behavior problems, dangerous behavior isn’t just a phase. Dangerous teen girl behavior may take the form of:
- Physical abuse of others
- Verbal abuse or bullying
- Self-harm or signs of eating disorders
- Reckless and dangerous behavior
- Theft or property destruction
- Secretive behavior and lying
- Abusing drugs and alcohol
- Erratic behavior or signs of mental illness
- Shameless, self-serving manipulation
- Apathy and unwilling to take responsibility
- Sticking with abusive relationships
- Excessive outbursts, sleeping or device use
- Suddenly withdrawing from favorite activities
If your child is acting out of control, things won’t get better with time. These early warning signs are likely to worsen. If you wait too long, you may lose the option to control the next step. This is a point where you will want to consider a treatment program or residential facility that could make a dramatic impact. Boarding schools for troubled girls can offer great solutions too. It’s important to find the right fit and get your daughter into a program that will address the underlying issues.
If your teen is scaring you, don’t wait. If you need help considering program options and finding the right solution for your teen, contact us today.