How to parent difficult and disrespectful teenagers

Teenagers can be difficult and disrespectful. Their rude behaviour can anger and shock you. Every parent goes through at least a few instances when their teenage child is rude or inconsiderate or  disrespectful or even completely defiant. Some children are difficult right from an early age while others seem to get difficult once they hit adolescence. Responding and parenting these disrespectful children is a huge challenge and a few ideas to help you are discussed in this article.

The first thing you need to understand is the difficult behaviour of a child is not a reflection of you. You do not have to take responsibility for your child’s disrespect. You do not have to apologise for your child’s rude behaviour with other family members, friends and strangers. If someone judges you or speaks poorly about your parenting skills, you do not have to put up with it.

Young mother in a discussion with her teenage daughter. Problems between generations concept.

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Most teenagers do not seem to understand what disrespect is. So, define it for them. Sometimes a tone of voice or a choice of words is also a form of disrespect and you need to make it clear to your teenager that it is unacceptable to use that tone or words. Apart from that, things like yelling, throwing around things, staying out after curfew et cetera are clearly difficult behaviours and keep stressing on them to avoid such actions. Let them know what will be the consequences if they continue such behaviours. For example, if they stay out after 10 pm, let them know that they will be grounded for a week.

The behaviour that your child exhibits is not what defines your child. You need to remember that the child is just acting in the moment. When the child is unable to get what he wants, he is only concentrating on that which he wants and not on his behaviour. Teenagers have difficulty expressing themselves when they feel angry and emotional. Blame it all on the new cocktail of hormones passing through their body. Teach your children how to handle stress. Give them problem-solving skills. One way in which you can do this is by role-playing with your child various difficult situations that he might face in his everyday life. Exchange your roles and let your child be the parent while you are the child.

You also need to see how you handle your emotions. Do you scream and shout around the house? What do you do when you are angry or frustrated? Are you using the tools, which you are providing your child, to manage your own emotions? The best way a child can learn to control his anger and emotions is only by observing how you do it and learning it from you.

Do not always speak about rules and punishments. Give your child lot of positive reinforcements too. Tell him, “If you come back home by 10, we can have a bowl of ice cream together.” Though this may not be something very enticing to him, still it is something positive and something to look forward to when he comes home on time.

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Archana Sarat
Archana Sarat is a freelance writer and author. While on most days you can find her tapping away on her laptop, sometimes she does turn her hair loose and paint the city red. Her works are published in various popular newspapers and magazines like The Times of India, The Economic Times, The SEBI and Corporate Laws Journal, The CA Newsletter and many more.

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