7 Changes in Adolescent Behavior that Often Cause Conflict

Changes in adolescent behavior can lead to conflicts at home. Accompany your child in the search for their identity.
7 Changes in Adolescent Behavior that Often Cause Conflict
Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 17 February, 2023

“He comes home from school and locks himself in his room.” “I ask her if she has anything to tell me and she says nothing.” “All day long, he’s on his cell phone.” These are some of the most frequent complaints from parents who have a teenager. The are many changes in adolescent behavior that often surprise parents and even alter the dynamics of the home.

Even so, adolescence isn’t synonymous with chaos and discomfort, but with transition. It’s the process required for your child to leave childhood behind and become a mature adult, capable of flying on their own. For this reason, it’s essential to know more about this stage and to closely accompany this young person who needs you more than ever. Will you join us on this journey?

You may be interested in: The 7 Main Stereotypes About Adolescents

7 changes in adolescent behavior that often cause conflict

Some of the changes in adolescent behavior can precipitate some kind of conflict between the people living with them. Below, we’ll tell you about those that parents face most frequently. Take note!

1. Defiance of authority

This includes both talking back to parents, as well as not respecting the rules established at home.

One of the reasons that lead adolescents to maintain this behavior is the need to differentiate themselves from their elders, find their identity, and reaffirm their own place in life.

A teenage boy ignoring his father.
Either by ignoring or breaking the established rules of coexistence, adolescents may defy their parental figures.

2. Interest in sexuality and initiation of sexual activity

Although sexuality is an aspect that runs through our lives at all times, at this stage, it takes on a special interest. This happens as a result of physical and hormonal changes that are triggered by biological programming. As in other species, the entire body prepares for reproduction, although this doesn’t imply that they’re psychologically ready to have a baby.

3. Interest in the use of drugs and other substances

Of course, this doesn’t happen in all cases, but it’s a quite frequent behavior among young people. It goes hand in hand with the interest in living new experiences and the influence of the peer group on the adolescent’s decisions.

In this scenario, it’s important to talk to our children about the risks and potential harm they may suffer if they maintain dangerous habits. It’s essential to instill in them good guidelines for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, alcohol or drug intoxication, and other external injuries, such as traffic accidents.

4. Their peer group takes the leading role

In adolescence, friends are the ones who have the last word in everything, even if parents think otherwise. Imitation and acceptance often guide young people’s decisions and shape interactions in the peer group.

This is an aspect to be careful with, as adolescence implies the search for autonomy and self-identity. Therefore, we must pay close attention to those signs that suggest that the adolescent maintains behaviors of emotional dependence or complacency in order to be accepted by peers.

5. Isolation and hermeticism, some of the most notable changes in adolescent behavior

With their music, series, or hobbies, many adolescents prefer to be alone and quiet in their rooms. This sometimes makes it difficult to know what they’re up to, which is particularly dangerous in situations of bullying or grooming.

Although it’s crucial to respect your child’s privacy, it’s worth encouraging moments of open and non-pressured dialogue to show your interest in knowing how they feel and what’s going on with them.

6. Changes in school performance

Physical and hormonal changes go hand in hand with certain changes in rest, sleep habits, attention, and concentration. Many times, this means non-compliance with homework or lower performance than usual.

7- Technology becomes the center of their lives

Whatsapp groups, endless sessions of video games, and posting selfies on social networks are some of the new habits that digital natives maintain. This leads several parents to constantly complain that their children live immersed in virtuality and are completely oblivious to “real life”.

How to deal with behavioral changes in adolescents

At first glance, it would seem that the world of adults and the world of teenagers are incompatible. However, this isn’t the case.

The key is to understand the situation that young people go through at this age and remember that we’ve all been there. Likewise, it’s important to implement a series of strategies to get closer to our children at this crucial time in their lives.

Here are some recommendations to keep in mind:

  1. Accept the change. You may find it hard to believe that childhood is behind you and that every day, your child is closer to exercising their rights, having their own judgment and autonomy, and experiencing changes in their tastes and opinions. But when you cling to the past, you deprive your child of growing and maturing, and you deprive yourself of experiencing this change together with them. Try to remember what adolescence was like for you and help your child to get through it in the best possible way.
  2. Offer good information. You should know that not talking about a subject because of your personal taboos doesn’t benefit your child in any way. On the contrary, it deprives them of good information when they need it. Promote spaces for open dialogue, in which the child can express their doubts and find the answers they need. If you don’t feel qualified to address certain issues, seek professional help, but don’t ignore the issue. This will only leave your teen unprotected.
  3. Set boundaries. While it’s important to let your teen experiment in order to gain autonomy, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set rules at home. Your child should know what the curfews are, what behaviors are unacceptable, and what their responsibilities are at home. Limits won’t always be welcomed, but you can try to explain the reasons for these rules and try to negotiate with your child when it’s possible to do so.
  4. Validate their emotions. What may sound like a no-brainer to you as an adult may feel like a “life or death” situation to your teen. You must take this point into account and accept that this aspect is also maturing. Validate their emotions, help them find solutions to their conflicts, and strengthen their self-esteem. If the young person perceives that what’s happening to them isn’t important to you, in the future, they’ll feel that their problems are minor and not worth talking about.
A mother comforting her sad teenage daughter.
Validating their emotions, providing them with a space for dialogue, and being empathetic with all the changes our children go through are some of the keys to better accompanying them at this stage.

Let’s not stereotype adolescence!

It’s true that there are some changes in adolescent behavior that are to be expected and that allow us to talk about adolescence as a typical stage. However, not all young people are the same and even many of the stereotypes we hold about them are based on prejudice and can be quite damaging.

Understanding the changes that adolescents undergo allows us to better empathize with them, and we must avoid maintaining a closed and biased view of this stage of life. Being too generalistic leads us to minimize the responsibility and influence that society and context have on the behavior of young people.

Therefore, it’s best to be attentive, remain close, and offer the necessary help to young people, leaving aside this adult-centered battle about who has the authority.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.