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  • Writer's pictureA Cognitive Connection

What Are the 5 Most Common Behavioral Issues in Teens?

Behavioral disorders, often reflected in symptoms like impulsivity, aggression, difficulty following rules, and social struggles, can be a cause for concern for your teenager. These behaviors can affect daily life, relationships, and your son or daughter’s overall well being. Knowing the signs of a behavioral issue is the first step to helping.


A Cognitive Connection is here for parents with teens facing behavioral challenges at home or school. Behavioral disorders can be hard to properly diagnose without proper medical expertise. This blog post’s aim is to offer a beginner’s guide to the most common behavioral issues.


What Are Behavioral Disorders?

Behavioral disorders in teenagers can manifest as a pattern of behaviors that are disruptive and harmful to both the individual and those around them. These challenges may have been overlooked or untreated during early childhood, leading to continued struggles during the teenage years. If left unchecked, these disorders can extend into adulthood, making it difficult for the affected person to

  • Maintain healthy relationships

  • Secure regular employment,

  • Fulfill other functions of typical adult life.

As a parent of a teenager exhibiting behavioral issues, recognizing the signs and seeking professional help is crucial. Early intervention and proper treatment can equip your teenager with coping strategies and social skills, paving the way for a balanced and successful adult life.


1. Conduct disorder

Teens with conduct disorder are characterized by a pattern of antisocial behaviors, difficulty in following rules, and a lack of empathy towards others. If you notice these traits in your teenager, it may be a sign of conduct disorder, especially if they begin to exhibit symptoms around the age of 16.

Common signs include:

  • Starting fights with other classmates

  • Bullying peers in their friend group

  • Stealing from stores or home

  • Destroying or breaking into private property

2. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)

While teenagers are notorious for misbehaving, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a little different. This disorder typically begins in childhood and is marked by behaviors such as frequent questioning of authority, excessive arguing, refusing to comply with rules or requests, and intentionally engaging in actions that upset others.

In adulthood, the symptoms of ODD may manifest as

  • Feeling persistently angry at the world

  • Feeling misunderstood

  • Harboring resentment against authority figures (especially in the workplace)

  • Becoming overly defensive when presented with opposition or feedback

  • Consistently blaming others for one’s actions.

3. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Teenagers suffering from ADHD may have difficulty focusing in class. If you notice dropping grades or if you hear feedback from teachers about hyperactivity, then your teen could have ADHD. It’s signs and symptoms include:

  • Impulsivity

  • Lack of focus

  • Lack of time management skills

  • Mood swings

  • Low frustration threshold

  • Trouble coping with stress

  • In adulthood, these symptoms can lead to financial instability, unemployment, frequent trouble with law enforcement, and unstable relationships.

4. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions can interfere with daily life, relationships, and overall well-being.

Here’s what you might notice if your teenager has OCD:

  • Persistent and intrusive thoughts or fears that cause distress

  • Fears of contamination, harming others, or fears that something terrible will happen

  • A need for things to be symmetrical or in perfect order

  • Repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the person feels driven to perform, often in response to an obsession

  • Washing hands many times, checking things repeatedly, or counting in certain patterns

5. Behavioral addiction

Behavioral addiction, also known as process addiction, refers to a compulsion to engage in a rewarding non-substance-related behavior, even though the behavior may lead to harmful consequences. Unlike substance addiction, where a person is addicted to a particular drug or alcohol, behavioral addiction centers on a compulsion to engage in a particular activity.

  • Video games

  • Internet Usage

  • Shopping

  • Binge eating

  • Risky behavior

A Cognitive Connection: Behavioral Counseling

Behavioral issues, ranging from ADHD and OCD to behavioral addictions like gambling, internet use, or binge eating, are increasingly prevalent among teenagers. These disorders not only affect the individual but can also have a profound impact on family dynamics, academic performance, and future success. Early recognition, understanding, and professional intervention are vital in addressing these challenges.

A Cognitive Connection offers specialized behavioral counseling in both individual and group settings, tailored to help individuals acquire and maintain adaptive behaviors and social skills. With methods including tapping exercises, anger management, music therapy, systematic desensitization, and rhythm training, the goal is to manage self-interactions and improve overall quality of life. Book a free consultation to learn how we can help your teenager thrive in school and life today!

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