The teenage years (adolescence) are a time of profound change for young people emotionally, psychologically and physically. It is when they are trying to establish their independence and identity.   

During this time they can often challenge authority and rules to develop their own sense of self.  

Your teen’s relationships

Relationships become particularly important as they attempt to fit into their own peer group and navigate changes that are taking place. 

Adolescents can present with a number of behaviours which appear challenging and can give rise to conflict in families, at school or in interpersonal relationships.  

Making decisions and taking risks

The part of the brain that supports decision making is still developing in teens. As a result, impulsiveness and not considering consequences can give rise to a number of risk-taking activities, including experimenting with alcohol and drugs, sexual activity, staying out late, and other behaviours.  

Whilst it is natural to worry about these behaviours, it is a normal part of adolescent development to take risks and challenge boundaries and rules.  

Ways to reduce conflict and risk

There are some things that you can do to reduce conflict and the risk of these behaviours becoming dangerous or causing negative impact to a young persons’ wellbeing.

Some suggestions are: 

  • Try to keep an open line of communication with your teenager without judging their individuality. If you do, they will be more likely to discuss their problems and experiences.
  • Remember, they are developing their own identity so it is natural for them to disagree with your point of view and to develop their own ideas. 
  • Negotiate rules and consequences with young people. Boundaries are still important and young people will respect you for it. 
  • Be a parent, not a friend. At the end of the day you are still responsible for your teenager as the adult. 
  • Remember that young people are often impulsive so discuss actions and decisions. 
  • Don’t try to impose your will unnecessarily as this is only likely to inflame conflict. Be firm and consistent with house rules and consequences. 
  • Respect their individuality – every child is different. 
  • Be available to connect with them.  

Want to know more? 


The Raising Children Network – Teens behaviour