Defiance, Rules, & Authority

Teenagers have a natural need for independence and autonomy which is usually the starting point for defiant behavior. Independence can be a positive thing if used appropriately. As you know, not all teens know how to use freedom wisely. Another natural tendency of teenagers is selfishness and self-centered behavior. When the need for independence and self-gratification collide, defiant behavior is one possible result. Many teens maintain conformity because they fear the consequences of defying authority and rules. However, many teens are not affect as much by this because they have learned that many of the consequences that adults impose are either unenforceable (such as a curfew) or are actually a good thing (i.e. being suspended from school because they were truant).

In our residential boarding schools and treatment centers, a child may still defy authority, but they can no longer avoid the consequences because we have more control than you do at home. For instance, if a teen becomes angry because they didn’t get their way, they can’t employ their typical coping mechanisms (i.e. running away or leaving the house, using drugs, sleeping, etc.) because those options are not available in our programs. Teens cannot avoid the immediate loss of privileges that will result from inappropriate behavior. When adolescents understand that someone is going to hold them accountable for their actions, they begin to re-evaluate whether they are going to being defiant is the best option. Any behavior, if repeated often enough, becomes habit-forming. Our goal is to help young people develop productive alternative habits and to teach them to consciously make choices versus reacting when asked to do something or being told they cannot do something.

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