Learn more about Academic Programs for Rebellious Teen Girls

Moms and Dads, Do You Have a Rebellious Daughter?

Do you have a rebellious daughter? Does she backtalk? Argue? Does she ignore you? Scream and shout? Break your rules? Disobey what you say? Stay in her room all the time? Sneak out the window at night? Does she steal from you? Failing in school? Does she blame everything that's wrong on someone else? Has she snuck boys into her room? Smell alcohol on her breath? Take the car for a joyride? The smoke smell on her clothes? Countless hours on Snap Chat or some other kind of social media?

Frankly, the list could go on and on. The ways teen girls can rebel against your authority, resist your efforts to establish boundaries, challenge the logic and value of your rules, or just openly defy you to your face are many. So, I ask again. Do you have a rebellious daughter? If you do, please know that more than likely it's not you and, yes, you can turn this frustrating part of you and your daughter's life around.

The biggest difference in the domain of teenage rebellion, of course, is social media. My daughter was nearly destroyed by other teen girls misusing the power of FaceBook against her; as we both learned that hardcore bullying can be accomplished without being physically present. Sadly, she found out she too could use popular social platforms to hurt others.

Teenage rebellion is a rite of passage in adolescence, but all the so-called natural pushing and shoving for independence can cross the line of what would be considered normal. This "stepped-up" version of teen rebellion is much more than just a phase, and it needs to be addressed for what it is... a real problem. Professional help may need to join you in the effort to get "your daughter back."

i could say...

i want you to know who i am,

but mostly i just don't want to even talk to you.

i want to plug myself in,

but mostly all i think of is getting unplugged.

i want to answer the phone,

but mostly i just want to hang up.

i want to be silent,

but mostly all i want to do is scream.

i want to stand still,

but mostly i want to dance like the devil.

and i want to walk,

but mostly i want to run like hell.

--from Dancing on a Rope by J Alan R for his rebellious teen girl, 2010

Causes of Rebellion in Teen Girls1

First, during adolescence, beginning as early as 9 years of age for girls, a flood of hormones and the development of the brain’s prefrontal cortex naturally release a hurricane of mood swings, heightened emotional responses, an increase in the frequency of arguing, and the infamous “pre-teen attitude” of defiance.1

“If your teen seems impulsive, moody, and you are constantly amazed by their poor decision-making skills, the [prefontal cortex] is to blame.”

--Kristi Pahr, Parents 2019

The combination of hormone release and prefrontal cortex growth can lead to potentially lethal decision making, like driving too fast, experimenting with drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, and having sex with other adolescents. These actions, and many others like them, as you are well aware, can be completely life-altering, even life-ending.

The new wrinkle or kink in the process of modern adolescence is social media. Secret profiles, online faceless bullying and harassment, and promiscuous flirting, known as “sexting,” is hard for parents to track and makes it very difficult to deal with that intent on causing harm to others weaker than themselves.1

“Social media is a playground ripe for even greater adolescent misbehavior than ever before.”

--anonymous parent

The question most parents begin asking themselves is what can I do? How can I help? How can I get help? At what point do I say, “My daughter has crossed the line!

“do you see?

i’m a kid,

but i’m not.

i’m a person,

with no identity.

i’m looking for answers,

in a world that tells lies.

who am i?

who am i supposed to be?

where am i?

where am i supposed to go?

and why do you care?

why does it matter what i say?”

--from Dancing on a Rope by J Alan R for his rebellious teen girl, 2010

Warnings Signs that This Misbehavior is No Longer Typical Adolesence2

It can be argued fairly easily that professional help, whether it be personal counseling or the involvement of law enforcement, is most certainly called for when teen girls break laws, use and abuse drugs and alcohol, and hurt others, either physically or emotionally. But there is another line that can be crossed that will require much more intensive assistance.

“When shifts in a teenager’s personality are more extreme, they may be indicators of a mental health issue.”

--Leah Campbell, Parenthood, 2019

Most teen girls get through adolescence in one piece. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as high as 85% of teens survive the teen years and thrive in young adulthood. That leaves some 15% who need something more than love, boundaries, consequences, and time. They need mental health professionals to get involved.

Potential concerning behavior, say mental health professionals, includes:2

  • When it comes to sleep, it is not necessarily normal adolescent behavior to routinely sleep all day, isolated from friends, and frequently missing school.
  • When it comes to moodiness and irritability, it is not necessarily normal for such to be constantly escalating, to be clearly unable to cope with life’s normal stressors.
  • When it comes to grades, it is not normal to be so anxious about school work that it paralyzes them in non-action, fueling, even more, the time spent sleeping and the increase in moodiness and irritability.
  • When it comes to defiance, it is not normal to regularly and willfully break the law, even accepting the consequences (suspension, expulsion, juvenile hall, jail time, etc.) as if they were no big deal.
  • When it comes to alcohol use and experimentation, it is not normal to binge drink, or to turn to drugs or alcohol with any frequency.
  • When it comes to lying, it is not normal to lie pathologically or to start living highly secretive lives.

“it’s like…

i’m alone,

but it’s not just me.

others are out there too

my friends, like me

for me,

not way out, though

but just far enough,

texting for free.

it’s a circus in the sky

and i’m way up high

all skittery and jittery,

dancing on a rope

with no net I can see.”

--from Dancing on a Rope by J Alan R for his rebellious teen girl, 2010

What Parents Must Do When the Line of What’s Normal is Crossed2

For me, it was when I had no idea what to do. Unfortunately for me, I did not wake up to the warning signs until I ended up sitting in a hospital emergency room watching my daughter breathe on life support, wondering if she would ever do so on her own again.

Does your daughter think about hurting herself or others? Is she constantly sad, angry, fearful, or anxious? Does she have frequent outbursts or mood swings? Does she more regularly seem to be confused or forgetful? Does she have delusions or hallucinate? Does she excessively fret overweight gain? Have her sleep or eating changed dramatically? Has her attendance at school become like that of a dropout? Is her schoolwork performance taken a nosedive?

Does she have great difficulty coping with even the basics of her day’s activities? Has she withdrawn from all social activities and relationships? Is she more than usually and openly defiant of all authority? Is she abusing illicit substances? Does she continually suffer from unexplained physical ailments?

Talk to the school counselor. Reach out to your family doctor. Look online to see what mental health services are available. Many parents contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Don’t wait!

If your daughter is in a state of emergency, take her to the hospital, or if she will not go, call for an ambulance. Call law enforcement. Call 911. There are also suicide hotlines to consider. Many parents contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

“some days…

i just want to get away.


i just want to be with.

but mostly…

i just want to get away with.

i’m cracking up,

but i’m not broken.

i’m afraid,

but i’m not really scared.


i’ve been nothing but sick,

sick and tired.”

--from Dancing on a Rope by J Alan R for his rebellious teen girl, 2010

Academic Programs Parents Should Consider3

With the assistance of school counselors and family doctors, you may possibly need to choose a therapeutic program for your daughter. There are several types of programs for troubled teens to consider across North America, including:

Behavioral Boot Camps—short-term, intense fitness-oriented, highly structured, trained counselors, can have an academic component

Wilderness Camps—short-term, set in a primitive outdoor setting, highly structured, trained counselors, can have an academic component

Residential Treatment Centers—live-in, long-term, highly structured, professional therapy counselors, has an educational component, recreational component

Therapeutic Boarding Schools—similar to residential centers, long-term, highly structured, run like a school with regular classes, professional therapy counselors, recreational component

“i love it


that you’re looking

that you’re looking for me,

but please know

i can’t make it easy.

i can’t let it show

how much I love you,

but want you to let go.

why should it be

you finding me

before I finally see

the real me?”

--from Dancing on a Rope by J Alan R for his rebellious teen girl, 2010

Trusting God with Your Rebellious Teen Girl4

As difficult as it sounds, no matter what you end up doing to help your rebellious teen daughter, it is important that you, first and foremost, trust God for her health, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. Ask yourself these questions:

*Do you believe God loves your daughter more than you do?

*Do you genuinely trust God to care for her better than you do?

*Will you step back and allow God to do what His will is for your daughter?

Yes, has to be the answer to all three questions. God is not asking you to abdicate responsibility or stop working on behalf of your daughter. He’s asking you to let her go and let God. You have to rest in the fact that He is in control, that He loves us, and that He wants to best for us. There is a peace that surpasses understanding while God takes you and your daughter through this terrible time, one way or the other.


you want to know

what it’s like

to be me?


i could ask


you even give a rip?

i could say


take a flying leap!

but maybe, just maybe

there’s something

i can say.”

--from Dancing on a Rope by J Alan R for his rebellious teen girl, 2010


1. “Teenage Rebellion Isn’t What It Used to Be—Here’s How to Deal With It,” by Kristi Pahr, in Parents, 2019.

2. “Is This Typical Teenage Behavior or a Warning Sign of Mental Illness?” by Leah Campbell, in Parenthood, 2019.

3. “Types of Troubled Teen Programs,” Best Therapeutic Boarding Schools, 2020.

4. “Trusting God with a Rebellious Daughter,” by Annette Cole, on Focus on the Family, 2007