Tag Archives: oppositional behavior

Sixteen and Out of Control (Pedcast)

It’s DocSmo time again, so if you have a tween or a teen in your house, this pedcast is for you. I am your host, Dr. Paul Smolen, both the Doc and the Smo in DocSmo.com. I started this blog for the benefit of parents and children 3 years ago, and I must say, I am having fun creating these pedcasts. Nothing is off the table here, and we talk about anything “I” am interested in. Topics are everything child here, anything from the crib to college, from the stroller to the sports car. Today, I am going to talk about something that a lot of families experience when their children are about 15-16 years old… destructive behavior. You remember being 16, preoccupied by social stuff, hormones raging with all those thoughts, and probably major league insecure, desperate to be accepted by your peers. Many of the families that I have known in my 32 years of pediatric practice have struggled with their children when they were this age.

I often have a front row seat to what goes on in families. Many of these parents and children I have cared for and have known since the day they came home from the hospital. That’s a very intimate view, wouldn’t you say? Well, here is what I have observed. Even the nicest families with the smartest, nicest children can have struggles when their children are mid teens.  Psychologists say that these years are dominated by a need for independence, a sense of autonomy, and a rejection of our parents’ authority. I would agree with this evaluation. These struggles often come out as drug and alcohol experimentation, poor school performance, self-destructive sexual experimentation, an intense rejection of parental authority, and lots of oppositional behavior. This is a very difficult time for everyone in the family, but here is what I have learned from my years of experience… families where there is stability around a spinning-out-of-control child usually end up with a happy ending. If the teen is loved, has a stable home setting, and does not have major mental illness or drug addiction, usually the child does just fine.

The teen may be 17, 18, or even 25 before things improve, but eventually, if there is stability around them, they will start to focus on positive life goals, assuming major substance abuse or mental illness hasn’t taken over. So, here is my advice to families in the thick of teen angst…be patient, concentrate on the positive, don’t dwell on failure, set reasonable expectations, create as much stability and routine in your family as you can, and trust that your teen will grow up and be someone you can be proud of…someday. If you need the help of a psychologist, get it; if your teen has serious drug or alcohol problems, don’t be afraid to get the help of a drug program, or if you, the parents have unresolved psychological problems like marital problems, substance abuse, or depression, get help yourself. Create that stability around your children… they need that in order to do all the other difficult tasks of growing up.

Thank you for spending a little time with me today.  I hope you found this pedcast informative and useful.  Portable, practical, pediatrics is always our goal.  Take a moment to write a comment or send this podcast to a friend or relative. It’s easy.  This is Doc Smo, asking you to create some positive family energy to help your child achieve life synergy.  Until next time.