Parenting A Rebellious Teenager

How do you reestablish your relationship with your rebellious teenager? Well, that's
what we're talking about today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage
and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families to live happier
lives. I lead two organizations teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 c three organization,
child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. And every Wednesday at
noon, I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's answer today's.
Now that summer break has started, it feels like anything goes with my daughter. She's been
staying out late with her friends and spending far too much time on screens, even though we talked
about her doing other things to keep her busy. I tried discussing this with her, but she just
gives me an eye roll, got snarky and blew me off. I long for the days when I felt connected and we
understood each other better. Any help you can give me with this

rebellious teenager? Thank you for your question. There are kind of two separate issues. They're
linked, but they're two separate issues. One is she's not following the rules that you've set.
And the second thing is your relationship having more trust and connection with your daughter.
Now, are they linked? Yes, but they're separate issues. So I'm going to deal with one at a time.
The first is the rules and the boundaries. And I caution you to only try to establish and set rules
and boundaries that you can realistically enforce. If you're trying to set boundaries and
rules that you cannot enforce, she's not going to follow them as she's shown. Right? And when
that happens is that builds more distrust between the two of you, more resentment between the
two of you, and it just creates more animosity, and it gets in the way of you guys connecting,
and it stops her from having interest in following your other rules. So if you do have a rule of
that she has to be on her screens less or she can't

go out as much, then you have to have some way to enforce that. Now, one school philosophy is,
hey, she's an old I assume she's an older teenager, like driving age. I don't know exactly the
age of this teenage girl, but let's assume she's of driving age 16 1718. Somewhere in there,
one could argue that, hey, she's got to learn some independence. She's going to have to take
her lumps, let her live through life's experiences. Now, if you think that she's able to make
relatively safe choices and not getting herself in danger, that's outside of what could be
expected for any teenager, maybe you let her go and get her lumps. However, if you feel like she's
putting herself in more danger than you can accept, and that level is going to depend on what
family and what parents and what kid, there's going to be so there's no one way to measure that.
You have to measure that the way you feel is best for your kid. If you feel that she's stepping
beyond what is reasonable risk in life, then you have

to somehow pull her back. Now she's going to hate it, she's going to resent it, and you have to
be prepared for that. But also, again, you have to have a way to enforce that. There's a lot of
ways to do that and it really depends on what's going on in your family. It's a much more detailed
conversation that we can cover in just a five minute video. Secondly, connection. It's normal
for teenagers to push away from the parents. It is normal adolescent behavior. We all have done
it. It's normal for teenagers to do it's how they start developing that sense of independence
and autonomy in their life. But they also need something stable and strong to push away from,
right? They need a strong, safe, loving, accepting relation with their parents to push away
from. So it's easier to come back and bounce back. Without that, they're more in danger of going
off and getting into drugs, alcohol, anything else that scares parents out of the wits. So find
ways to connect with her on her terms. It's kind

of like a cat. Dogs are easy. A dog loves being around you. Whenever you're around the dog, dog
loves it. The cats, I know it's kind of a cliche analogy, but there's that one meme goes around
that teenagers like cats, they only come out when they're hungry and then if you talk to them,
they hiss at you. Some teenagers that's really apropos. Unfortunately, some of you parents
watching were that teenager and you can remember being that way. So finding ways to connect
that could be only talking about things that they're interested in. Asking about how a school
today is probably a dead end conversation. Talking about music, her favorite TV shows, her
favorite YouTubers, things that she finds value in. That may be something that holds more interest
for her. Also could be things like, remember she was ten and you'd brush her hair, offer to brush
her hair. I don't know if she'd respond to that, but it's something maybe at bedtime she's more
relaxed rubbing her back like you did when she was seven.

Is she more open to having those conversations? Also, don't always put the conversation on
her that you're interviewing her and she has to answer. Sharing things that you feel appropriate
about your life may open up things that she may start being interested in you and curious about
you and your life. Whether what you were like as a teenager, what your life is like now. Obviously
you don't just share everything because some things are inappropriate to share with your teenage
children. But when you can share not that it is her responsibility to take care of your feelings,
because it is not. But anything that you feel like is appropriate, find way those ends. And again,
she may never fully embrace you as a teenager the way she did when she was ten, but in the back of
her mind she knows mom or dad is always there. And maybe as she goes off to college and she comes
back for spring break or summer break, whatever she's like now, she feels more connected to
you. It's a long game and sometimes

the teenage years, you're not going to get the appreciation, the affection that you want for
your teenagers. This is unfortunately a very common thing. So you're not abnormal if you're
going through this. It's not abnormal to have that affection too, but it's all over the map.
It's not because you're a good or bad parent. A lot of times it's just their born temperament
and who they are. So make sure that the self judgment is kept at bay and keep finding ways to connect
with her in ways that she finds meaningful, not the way that you nestle find meaningful. You
have to find a way to cross the bridge. You can't expect her to meet you halfway. She doesn't have
that capacity. You have to cross almost the other side of the bridge to have her come just a little
bit of the ways. Anyways, that's our question for today. Thank you for your questions. I'm off
next week so there will be no tips on teens next Wednesday. So those of you who've emailed questions,
there's a couple of you, I'll get back

to you in mid July, but if you have a question you'd like me to answer, please email us at
Again, my name is Kent Toussant with Teen Therapy Center and End Child and Teen Counseling and
hope you guys have a great 4 July and I'll see you in two weeks. Bye.


Parenting a rebellious teenager can be challenging, especially when it feels like you’re losing connection with them. In order to navigate these years peacefully parents can’t just focus on enforcing rules. Building trust and connection is equally as important as the boundaries you set.

One of the key issues when dealing with a rebellious teenager is setting rules you can actually enforce. If you make rules you can’t actually enforce with your kid, it can lead to increased distrust, resentment, and a strain in your relationship. There may be situations where parents need to assess how much risk they’re willing to expose their kid to, and adjust boundaries accordingly.


Teenagers naturally seek independence and autonomy, often pushing away from their parents. If they have something stable to push off of (you), they’ll be more likely to come back when they’re in trouble. Find ways to connect with your teen based on their interest, not yours.

Parenting a rebellious teenager requires patience, understanding, and a willingness to adapt.. Ultimately, maintaining a supportive presence and finding meaningful ways to connect will contribute to a stronger parent-teen relationship in the long run. It’s a long game, and the rewards may not be immediate, but get into it in this Tips on Teens:

“Now that summer break has started, it feels like anything goes with my daughter. She’s been staying out late with her friends and spending far too much time on screens even though we talked about her doing other things to keep her busy. I tried discussing this with her but she just gave me an eye roll, got snarky and blew me off. I long for the days when I felt connected and we understood each other better. Any help you can give me with this rebellious teenager?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.