Raising a teenager is not for the weak of heart. Knowing what is normal adolescent behavior and what isn’t can ease your worried mind as well as let you know when you should be concerned.

Understanding the mind of a teenager isn’t easy. It’s a stage we’ve all lived through, but for some reason, it can be so much harder to understand when you are a parent instead of an angsty teen. Normal teenage behavior can include things that cause parents to worry even when they don’t need to. Picking up on what isn’t normal can be quite a task. This guide will help you figure out what teenage behaviors are normal as opposed to what should make you worry and prompt you to seek help.

What Is Normal Adolescent Behavior?

It can be quite difficult to tell when you should be worried about your teenager and when they are simply displaying normal teenage behavior. Always remember that as a parent, you know your child best. If you really feel deep down in your heart that something is wrong, you should trust your gut instinct and try to intervene with professional help for your adolescent. But if you aren’t sure whether you should be concerned or not, understanding normal adolescent behaviorcan help you decide if it is time to take action.

Changing appearance


Teenagers are becoming adults. Part of this process is exploring their individuality. It is normal for adolescents to begin changing their appearance to express their newfound sense of self. Choosing a totally new style of dressing is a completely normal thing for a teenager to do. Sometimes these changes in appearance can be rather drastic, but that doesn’t mean that you should worry. Try not to panic when your teen comes up with some crazy thing that they swear is the newest fashion craze, even if you would never dream of wearing such a thing. Fitting in becomes very important during the teenage years, so adolescents tend to keep up with the newest styles so as not to be different from their peers. (And yes, even a blue mohawk and a face full of piercings can fall under the category of normal adolescent behavior.)

Withdrawing from family life

During adolescence, it is normal for teens to withdraw from their family lives to some extent. For teenagers, friendships with their peers tend to become the central relationships in their lives. As an adolescent, children want to spend less time with their parents and more time with their friends. Teens also want to talk to their friends more than they want to talk to their parents. Not surprisingly, friends also seem to have more of an impact on a teen’s decision making than that of their parents. This is all a natural part of growing up and becoming your own person. It should be noted that this is not the same as withdrawing completely, but it is a normal adolescent behavior for teens to distance themselves from their parents somewhat.

Arguing more

It is also normal for teenagers to argue with their parents and other adults in their lives more than they used to. However, it is not normal for these arguments to be constant or to involve any type of violence. These arguments also shouldn’t lead to any long-term resentment. But defiance and a tendency to argue are yet another part of normal adolescent behavior. Common things for a teen to say during an argument include:

  • Accusations that they aren’t loved
  • Claims that rules aren’t fair
  • Insistence that all their friends are allowed to do something they aren’t

It is even normal for a teenager to tell their parents that they hate them. But as explained above, these arguments and the emotions that go along with them should be fleeting.

Mood swings

Emotional ups and downs are normal during adolescence. Teenage mood swings can largely be attributed to the hormonal changes that are taking place during these years. Teens can quickly go from happy to angry or sad in the blink of an eye and you may not even be able to fully figure out what triggered the change. While extremes in emotions or lasting depression and anxiety are concerning, mood swings are a normal adolescent behavior.

What Should Make Me Worry?


So, if of those are all normal adolescent behaviors, what should make you worry as a parent? The adolescent years can be tough and not all behaviors are normal. There are times that parents do need to worry. Here is a list of behaviors that are cause for concern:

  • Decrease in enjoyment and time spent with friends and family
  • Significant decrease in school performance
  • Strong resistance to attending school or absenteeism
  • Problems with memory, attention or concentration
  • Big changes in energy levels, eating or sleeping patterns
  • Physical symptoms (stomach aches, headaches, backaches)
  • Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, anxiety, crying often
  • Frequent aggression, disobedience or lashing out verbally
  • Excessive neglect of personal appearance or hygiene
  • Substance abuse
  • Dangerous or illegal thrill-seeking behavior
  • Is overly suspicious of others
  • Sees or hears things that others do not

While it is not necessarily time for concern just because your teenager displays one of the behaviors on this list, it does mean that you should keep a watchful eye. If your adolescent engages in several of these behaviors, then it is time to talk to your teen before things have a chance to get worse.

Where Can I Get Help For My Teenager?

If your adolescent is doing things that have your worried, the first thing you need to do is talk to them yourself. Let your teen know that you love them and are on their side. Try to avoid placing blame or making accusations. But where do you go for help if this isn’t enough? The first place to start is with your doctor. Your teenager’s pediatrician can provide you with a referral to another doctor, therapist, or mental health professional who specializes in behavioral medicine. Your adolescent’s school counselor is also a good resource when you need to get help for your teen. An internet search can help you track down behavioral programs for troubled teens available in your local area.

Being the parent of a teenager is not an easy job, as we all know. Understanding what is normal adolescent behavior and what should make you worry is not always easy when dealing with teens. Remember, always trust your parental instincts and contact your child’s physician if you are concerned and think your teen is dealing with issues that go beyond normal teenage behavior.

Featured image CC by 0, by JÉSHOOTS via Pexels

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This