Not all teens develop positive behaviors. Whether to cope, survive or to stand out, a teen may resort to manipulation, intimidation or pure subterfuge to attain his ends. He may grow into an angry young man, presenting with oppositional defiant disorder or a host of other conditions. It is important to note these behaviors may be related to a number of issues, not just one. They may be symptoms a deeper problem—mental illness or substance abuse.
Manipulation is about testing boundaries. A young man wants to know how far he can push before his parents push back. This is an innocuous rite of passage. It turns Machiavellian when manipulation becomes the young man’s modus operandi. Why some young men resort to dishonesty is not entirely clear. Researchers believe at the core of the behavior is lack trust. Regardless of his motive, a young man who routinely deceives his family members will soon branch out.
Manipulation takes many forms. Steamrolling is the act of incessantly making the same request in order to break down a parent’s resolve. Emotional blackmail preys on a parent’s emotional vulnerabilities. Retaliation tactics are designed to undermine a parent’s authority.
Manipulative behavior is often a symptom of addiction. Addicts and alcoholics manipulate to obtain money or drugs. They manipulate in order to cover their misdeeds. They manipulate to place blame on others.
Some teens grow up with a mistaken sense of entitlement. In addition to being a constant pain in the neck, a teen with an entitlement complex has no sense of boundaries. This phenomenon came into public view in 2013 when Ethan Couch, 15, drove drunk and killed four people and paralyzed another. At the time of the accident, Couch was living alone in his family home in Texas. His parents had moved to a more palatial dwelling down the street. Since Couch was raised with no rules, at the teen’s trial, a psychologist said the young man suffered from affluenza. In effect, Couch felt rules did not apply to him and was entitled to do whatever he wanted.
Anger management issues and oppositional defiant disorder
Teens are moody and irritable—at times. A teen who is constantly irritated or angry, even violent, can indicate a more serious issue than moodiness. Depression often manifests as anger, as does substance abuse. A teen who is habitually confrontational toward people in authority may have oppositional defiant disorder—ODD. The teen derives a sense of identity from his behavior. Challenging authority is his way of asserting his independence.
White River Academy specializes in treating the underlying causes which fuel addiction and behavioral problems. We emphasize self-reliance and service—whether it’s in the community or to fellow students. Young men age 12 to 17 with substance abuse, mental health or behavioral health issues enjoy an academic life which includes hiking, camping and fishing. We offer individual sports such as wrestling and team sports, including baseball and basketball. For more information about our curriculum, our programs or our treatment philosophy, please call 866-520-0905.