Risky Behavior in Teenage Children

Teenagers often engage in risky behavior to make a statement about themselves. However, as a parent, what should you know about this type of behavior?
Risky Behavior in Teenage Children

Last update: 28 January, 2021

For many parents, it can be a big cause of concern to think that their teenager might be actively engaging in risky behavior. Therefore, it would be important to know what kinds of situations can lead to this type of behavior so that parents can be vigilant.

Why do teens engage in risky behavior?

It’s important to understand why adolescents may engage in risky behavior. They crave new experiences, and this can be very worrying and stressful for parents. Adolescents need to explore their own limits, as well as the limits set by any kind of authority in their lives.

In the same way, they also need to express themselves as individuals who are independent of their parents, with their own identity and idiosyncrasies. And, as if that weren’t enough, their brains still aren’t fully mature. That’s why they can be quite impulsive in their decision-making, without thinking through the consequences.

Risky Behavior in Teenage Children

In fact, teens may make decisions that involve risky behavior just to feel like they fit in with their peer group. Below, we’re going to walk you through some of the most common examples of risky behavior.

Common risky behavior in teens

If you’re a parent of a teenager, it’s important for you to know what the most common types of risk behavior are. In this way, you’ll be able to establish good communication with your child in order to prevent them. The most common are the following:

Safe risk-taking?

It’s good for teens to take some risks in order for them to learn about themselves and to test their skills. Overprotecting them isn’t the right choice. If your child likes thrills, then it’s important to channel that energy into safe and constructive activities.

Some of these safe activities can include martial arts, rock climbing, canoeing, mountain biking, etc. Some teens may even enjoy the adrenaline rush of putting on a performance or a play.

These are ways to give teens autonomy and independence so they can explore their own independence without feeling the need to rebel or engage in dangerous behavior in their day-to-day lives.

How do you keep your teen safe?

Knowing that teens like to test boundaries doesn’t make it any easier to live with risky behavior. Here are some ideas to help your teen think more about consequences so that they can stay safer.

Talk about behavior and consequences

Talking about behavior and consequences can help your child learn to determine how much risk there is in any given situation. However, be careful not to make it sound like a lecture, because this could encourage your child to rebel.

Develop agreed-upon rules

If you work with your child on rules and the consequences for breaking them, then he or she is more likely to follow them. You’ll need to be flexible and adapt the rules as your child grows and shows that they’re ready to take on more responsibility.

Talk about values to avoid risky behavior

Knowing what’s important to the family will help your child develop personal values and responsibility. You can support family values by being a good role model in areas like drinking alcohol, driving, and treating others with respect.

Risky Behavior in Teenage Children

Keep an eye on your child

Knowing who your child is with and where they are can help you protect them. For example, when you negotiate rules with them, one of them might be that they need to let you know where they’re going to be and to call you if their plans change.

Staying connected with your child

If you stay connected and build a strong relationship with your child during adolescence, then they’ll be able to handle situations better. They’re likely to be able to resist the pressure to take drugs or engage in sexual activities.

Likewise, maintaining a good connection with your child isn’t just about talking. It’s also about connecting emotionally and spending quality time together. In this way, they’ll be able to continue to see you as a good role model and won’t have to look for other role models outside of the home.

In short, with the tips we’ve given you today, you’ll have seen how you can protect your children more effectively and stop them from taking part in risky behavior. They won’t feel the need to do this in order to make a statement or create their identity, and, in addition to that, they’ll grow in self-confidence.


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.

  • Giraldi, G. (2020) Cómo interpretar al niño y al adolescente hoy: Algunas reflexiones. Editorial: HomoSapiens Ediciones.

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