When adopted teenage girls struggle with the inherent physical, emotional, or social changes of adolescence, out of control behaviors are typical and should even be expected. The following article examines some of the most common behavioral problems in adopted teens, and furthermore, teaches parents of adopted teens how to handle these behavioral issues.

Typical Out of Control Behaviors to Watch Out For

While it's safe to say"all teenage girls are prone to bouts of rebellion and defiance," it is a more common, and often times, more severe issue for adopted teens. Other common behavioral problems include:

  • Frequent anger outbursts, which may or may not be accompanied by physically lashing out at others
  • Demonstrating manipulative, unsafe, and/ or illegal behaviors
  • Developing unhealthy relationships
  • Alcohol and/ or substance abuse or engaging in self-injurious or risky behavior, such as cutting or having unprotected sex
  • A dramatic decline in grades, which may be related to skipping school
  • Withdrawing from family and friends; refusing to share her feelings
  • Running away from home
  • Voicing suicidal threats or making an actual suicide attempt

Why Are Adopted Teens More Prone to Acting Out?

During the transitional phase of adolescence, the teenage brain goes through a period of significant change, which can be affected by early childhood trauma and/ or adoption [1]. While the prefrontal cortex, or the area of their brain that is responsible for impulse control, making good decisions, and controlling inappropriate behaviors, slowly develops, it is not unusual for chemical changes, such as in their levels of dopamine or serotonin, to rapidly occur. During this same time, the synapses between the brain cells work overtime to become all the more efficient for the ever developing teenage brain.

Although it is true that the actual process of adoption may not substantially affect a teen’s brain, life experiences can. This includes prenatal exposure to alcohol and/ or drugs, trauma, and neglect during their early years.

This is also a time in her life when an adopted teen may struggle with their identity, leading to the questions, “Who am I?” or “Where do I belong?” This can intensify problematic behaviors.


How Can Turning Winds Academic Institute Help?

Turning Winds is a residential treatment center committed to helping troubled teen girls. Using a unique combination of cutting-edge therapeutic interventions, we work to help our clients gain insight into their problematic behaviors, as well as learn how to change them. In our structured and nurturing environment, adopted teen girls address the challenges they are facing and learn to develop and maintain healthy relationships with their family and friends.


[1] https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/parent_teenager.pdf


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