How to Handle Teen Destructive Behavior

How do I handle my teen’s destructive behavior, they are literally destroying our home!

Is your teen’s destructive behavior breaking your family? Maybe you removed their smartphone, possibly shut-down the gaming devices — or told them they could not attend a party and suddenly your home becomes a warzone.

Parents today feel like they are walking on eggshells when they are dealing with an out-of-control teenager that can become explosive when they don’t get their own way or feel mistreated.

stressed high school student having difficulty solving the equation at white boardSometimes destructive behavior serves a different purpose: intimidation. A teen may learn that by breaking things, punching holes in the wall, and behaving violently, they can frighten a parent into doing what they want.

After-all, they know mom or dad are likely exhausted and will eventually concede since they do not feel like fighting.

Breaking the Cycle of Teen Destruction

If your teen has been showing escalating negative behavior, you may suspect that he will become aggressive in the future. There are some things that you can do to help your teen choose alternatives to aggression.

There are several things that can increase the likelihood that adolescents will be aggressive. Although these things don’t ensure aggression, they can make it more probable that adolescents will choose aggressive responses to frustration. Understanding the risk factors for violence can give you a place to start thinking about making changes.

According to the surgeon general’s report on youth violence, these factors include:

  • Aggression between parents (in two-parent homes)
  • Single parent households
  • Parent having been a victim of abuse as a child
  • Very overprotective parents
  • Parents who are “best friends” with their child
  • Drug and/or alcohol use in the child
  • Culture where it is believed that men are supposed to control the family
  • Teens who do not take responsibility for their behavior
  • Parents who do not hold teens responsible for their own behavior

Understand that teens who do not know how to solve problems seek control by acting out, being physically or verbally abusive, being destructive, or abusing substances. They do not know how to make friends or communicate to meet their needs. So, they turn to other ways to get their needs met—they turn to drugs and alcohol and inappropriate behavior.

How to curb and cope with destructive outbursts

Especially in today’s age of technology and entitlement, helping your teen manage their emotions can be challenging. Parenting a destructive teen, it is important to help them develop coping skills to manage their own emotions, especially when they feel themselves beginning to rage.

Here are some ways to help you manage your own emotions while helping your teen learn to manage theirs.

1. Don’t be a parent in denial.

Many parents will make excuses for their teen’s behavior, since it is difficult to accept their once good teen is acting out so irrationally. Whether you want to blame it on a negative peer group, maybe too much screen-time or possibly substance use – the fact is your teen is choosing this destructive behavior.

2. Stay calm.

Likely easier said than done, especially as your teen is going into a rage and becoming explosive as they destroy property in the house, such as punching walls or breaking doors. As difficult as it can be, it is imperative you remain calm — confronting your teen with more anger will only escalate the situation.  If you lower your voice and speak more slowly, your teen may do the same because emotions are contagious.

3. Positive and encouraging outlets.


If your teen is quick to anger when they are not getting their own way or for other reasons that is leading to destruction, finding them positive outlets can help them develop coping skills and mechanisms to deal with stress management.  These can include working with animals, volunteering, gardening, art and music and even boxing. Also, if your teen is old enough, having a job is a great way to help them learn patience, responsibility, and empathy.

4. Seeking outside help.

Dealing with a destructive teenager is overwhelming and extremely challenging. It can not only destroy your home (literally) — but it can also ruin your family life in general. In many situations your teen will refuse to see a therapist or even the school counselor.  Some parents have had to have their teen admitted to a local hospital when they have become extremely out-of-control that a parent has feared for either their life or the life of their teen.

Also read:

Purpose of a Therapeutic Boarding School

5 Benefits of Therapeutic Boarding Schools


This is when it might be time to consider the benefits of residential treatment and therapeutic boarding schools for your troubled teenage. They can provided with enrichments programs for anger management, clinical teams for behavior therapy and as well help them stay on track with their academics. Contact us for more information. 


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