Rebellion or Defiance? Six Tips for Parenting a Defiant Teen

4638453675 86a4ecbc0e z 300x200It’s natural for your teen to do things that may be considered rebellious. The teen years are all about experimentation and finding out who you are as an individual. If your teen is defiant and acting out constantly, that behavior needs to be stopped. However, sometimes it can seem impossible to try to control your defiant teen. Here are a few tips for working with your defiant teen.

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Working with your defiant teen

  1. Set firm rules and be consistent. Oftentimes, a defiant teen knows he or she can get away with being disruptive and disrespectful because there aren’t any repercussions. Make sure your teen knows there are specific consequences for their actions.
  2. Pick your battles. Instead of lecturing your defiant teen after they do something your disapprove of every time they do something wrong, choose to speak up only when it’s super important to you to do so. If your teen hears the same talk from you again and again, it will become background noise to them and lose its meaning and intention.
  3. Work on one difficulty at a time. If your defiant teen is skipping school, staying out late with their friends doing who knows what, and swearing constantly, it may seem like this behavior is unmanageable. However, if you work on one behavior at a time, you can start making a plan to improve their behavior. For example, set a strict curfew to stop them from hanging out late with their friends. Make sure this curfew is enforceable and is actually carried out.
  4. Get your teen involved. Extracurriculars like sports, theatre, art, or band can do wonders for your teens behavioral issues. Boredom is often the cause of teens acting out. If they are kept busy, they won’t act out as much.
  5. Figure out what’s going on with them. Before you take any action towards stopping their behavior, sit your defiant teen down and talk with them about what’s going on in their life. They may not want to cooperate, but they need to know what you’re there for them to guide them through their teen years.
  6. Get them help. There’s no shame in seeking professional help for your defiant teen. Their difficulties may surpass your knowledge and experience. A therapist or other psychiatric professional can really help get your teen back on the right track.

Trails Carolina can help

If your defiant teen is struggling to get back on the right track, Trails Carolina can help. Trails Carolina, a wilderness therapy program for teens ages 10-17 struggling with emotional and behavioral difficulties, can help your child work through whatever is causing their defiant behavior.
For more information about Trails Carolina, please call 800-975-7303

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Jeremy Whitworth

As Executive Director at Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program for youth and teens, I oversee operations and collaborate with our leadership team. Since 2022, I've also hosted the Common Ground Podcast for parents: With a background in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I've managed adventure-based therapeutic programs across the US and Canada. My experiences in competitive athletics and adventure sports have honed my leadership, risk assessment, and decision-making skills, which I apply to running a successful business like Trails Carolina.

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Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


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