destructive behavior in teenagers

5 Self-Destructive Tendencies of Teen Boys

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“You’re not fooling anyone, Bender. The next screw that falls out is gonna be you.” Remember that line? The first time I saw The Breakfast Club, I was a pre-teen. So I didn’t understand all the teen angst. When Judd Nelson’s character, John Bender, faced off with the teacher, Mr. Vernon, I got more and more upset. I wanted to shout at him until finally Molly Ringwald’s character, Claire, did it for me. “Cut it out!” she yelled and then silently mouthed the word “stop.” But he didn’t. He lashed out even more and ended up with eight Saturday detentions.

Teenagers are in a difficult position. They are trying to deal with changing bodies and surges of emotions. Everything that they’ve known is shifting. It’s like the ground underneath them is shaking like an earthquake. It’s unstable and scary. When they don’t know how to cope with it, destructive behavior in teenagers becomes common. Yesterday we looked at the tendencies of teen girls. Today, here are 5 self-destructive tendencies of teen boys.

1. Immersing Themselves in Pornography

Pornography is one of the easiest places for teen boys to turn for an escape. The urges are already there, and porn makes them feel in control and empowered. However, the experience is temporary and when it’s over, it can leave them feeling guilty or depressed. The only relief is more of the same and they get caught in a terrible cycle. Pornography also gives them a warped view of women, relationships, and sex. It can even affect them physically—erectile dysfunction among teens has increased over the last 10 years.

2. Taking Unhealthy Physical Risks

Teenagers feel invincible so they aren’t worried about injuring themselves, and they’re definitely not worried about dying. So, many of them take physical risks as a way to blow off steam. I knew a college student who lost his hotel key, but instead of going to the lobby to get another one, he went out on his friend’s balcony and hopped from one balcony to another until he finally got to his room. He was on the tenth floor. Driving 100 miles an hour, getting stoned or drunk, or playing with heights, they don’t understand the risks they’re taking.

3. Getting Into Trouble and Fighting

A way for teen boys to feel a sense of power and assurance is to do whatever they want without worrying about the consequences. This includes acting out and fighting. They use both to blow off steam. Getting in trouble may serve to impress others and help them feel like they have a little more control. Similarly, fighting is often used to feel respected.

4. Being Cruel

The thing teens want most is attention. Receiving attention affirms who they are. Unfortunately, their brains haven’t developed enough to fully understand the impact they have on others. They will do or say whatever they can to get noticed or make people laugh—even at the expense of others. So, they’re cruel. That cruelty can also be a convenient way to release pent-up anger. Hurtful words and actions bring relational damage, feelings of guilt, or—worse—a loss of empathy.

5. Having Unhealthy Dating Relationships

A lot of teen boys seek validation in dating relationships. But a guy can lose his identity in the relationship, becoming what his girlfriend wants him to be. However, an even stronger temptation for most teen boys is to pursue sex as a symbol of manhood. In this way, they look at girls as something to conquer instead of as people. Ultimately, this will lead to relational difficulty, stunted growth, feelings of guilt, and possible physical risks.

Sound off: What is some other destructive behavior in teenagers to look out for?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some good things to do when you become overwhelmed?”