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The Effects of Teenage Rebellion

author image Erica Loop
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.
The Effects of Teenage Rebellion
Two teenagers passing a note in class. Photo Credit Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

Not every adolescent is out of control, despite the image of the rebellious teen as a notable popular culture stereotype seen in movies and on TV. But if your child is showing a rebellious streak, he may suffer harmful or long-term consequences as a result of his negative behavior. Understanding the effects of teenage rebellion can help parents enact more serious discipline than a simple weekend-long grounding or taking away computer time.


Whether your teen refuses to do his homework, talks back to his teachers or constantly cuts classes, rebellion at school can harmful to your teen's future. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children website, dropping out of school before receiving a high school diploma has serious long-term financial consequences when it comes to finding a career that pays a livable wage. While your teen may think that his school-centered rebellion is "cool" or that cutting class will make him more popular, you must put a stop to this behavior. The AAP suggests that parents give their rebellious teen the facts about what dropping out means in the long run. If this doesn't work, talking to the school staff -- and getting their expert help -- may prove helpful.

Dating and Relationships

If your teen suddenly thinks that she's the star in her own real-life version of "Romeo and Juliet," she's not alone. During the teen years, you will witness the onset of your child's first romantic interests and relationships. While this in itself isn't exactly rebellious behavior, if your teen decides to continue dating someone who you clearly don't approve of or engages in risky behaviors such as unsafe sex, the effects can prove dangerous. The child development experts at the AAP suggest that parents get to know their teen's date or romantic partner before passing judgment. If the romantic rebellion escalates from choosing an offbeat date to an unhealthy relationship with a violent person, or a teen who has serious problems such as substance abuse, step in and put your foot down.

Substance Use

In an effort to rebel against the squeaky clean image that you want him to have, your teen may decide to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or using drugs. According to a 2011 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39 percent of high school teens admitted to drinking alcohol within the past month. Instead of letting your teen become one of these statistics, help him to understand the dangers of using substances as a form of rebellion. Discuss how drinking or using drugs doesn't make him dangerously cool, it just makes him dangerous to himself and others around him. If your teen continues to rebel by using substances, he may suffer both short and long-term effects. In the short-term, you may see a drop in your teen's grades or an increase in social misbehaviors such as fighting. Long-term effects may include health problems, memory issues or negative changes in brain development.


When your preschooler takes home the classroom crayons, she may not exactly know that she is stealing or that this action is not acceptable. Unlike your tiny tot, your teen knows that stealing is wrong and above that, illegal. According to the pediatric experts at the KidsHealth website, some teens may steal as a form of rebellion. If your teen is trying to shed her "good girl" image by shoplifting makeup at the mall, help her to understand that the consequences of this rebellious activity may land her in court or juvenile detention. The effects of stealing as a teen may travel along with her in the form of a police record, making it more difficult to get into college or pass a background check for a job.

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