“What? What do you want now? Gosh, can’t I just be alone?”
“You never let me do anything! I can’t wait to leave this house.”
Teenagers can be rude and disrespectful. It’s their inner turmoil spilling over as they go through one of the biggest developmental changes of their life. They are becoming independent, and they don’t quite know what they are doing – even though they will tell you they know EXACTLY what they are doing.
As parents, we have to take a step back, and manage this teen behavior. By ignoring it, you’re setting yourself up for worse behavior not only in adolescence but maybe years into adulthood.
Connect with Your Teen
Communication is key during adolescence. It can be frustrating when a teen often wants nothing to do with talking at this time in his life However, “no matter how grumpy or cross your child gets, he still values time talking and connecting with you. You just might need to be a little more understanding if he’s short-tempered or changeable. It can help to remember that this phase will pass,” according to the parenting website Raising Children.
Set Boundaries and Limits
Talking back is one of teens’ notorious behaviors. It can catch many of us off guard, and we may just want to let it go, so it doesn’t keep happening. That’s the worst thing you could do, though. According to Janet Lehman, MSW, children who talk back regularly because their parents haven’t set firm limits around it, will do it more. In Lehman’s words, “you are training him to do it more often.”
When a teen talks back, cut it off with a solid exclamation of disapproval. Make it adamant that this behavior will NOT be tolerated. Implementing and enforcing consequences can end back talk quickly.
Getting Through to a Teen
Teens are on the defense just about every minute of the day. When they have a bad attitude or seem to be making the wrong choices, it can seem fruitless to try to change them. The reason is it is fruitless. “Teens often have an apathetic or dismissive attitude about anything other than what they want to do. When you focus on trying to change your child’s attitude, you’re setting yourself up for frustration,” says Megan Device, LCPC.
So, what are you supposed to do? Stop fighting and judging. When your teen has a bad attitude, set the limits and consequences and allow your teen to decide what to do next. When a teen is making bad decisions, again bring up consequences, and allow the teen to make the choices. Teens want autonomy and along with that autonomy comes decisions that lead to consequences. It’s something adults have, so adolescence is the perfect time to introduce it.
Adolescence is a rocky road, but with your continued structure, guidance, and support your teen can get through these troublesome years. At times, some parents need a little more help from someone on the outside.