Every parent knows when a teen’s behavior crosses the line and becomes truly unacceptable. Yet, very few of them actually know how to deal with this kind of behavior among their teens.
For example, how often have you said to your teen “You’re not going to talk to me like that”, only to have him or her respond with disrespect? Do you draw a line then and there and determine a punishment because your teen has gone too far?
What would you do if your teen is frequently and deliberately being rude, condescending and insensitive?
While it is absolutely clear that these are the kind of problems you need to nip right at the bud, you also need to understand why these kinds of things happen.
As kids grow up, the part of their brain that involves emotion control and practical decision making is the slowest to mature. That is why teens generally lack the control or decision making that adults have, and this is the cause of the unstable moods or attitudes among teenagers, and behind the many episodes of conflicts between parents and their teens.
Doing nothing will not stop this bad behavior. Moreover, bad behaviors have the tendency to escalate into bigger, harder to solve issues.
Here are ways of handling your teen’s disrespectful behavior:
Define houses rules regarding proper behavior and communication
For example, you can set the rule “We speak respectfully in our family”, which includes answering questions politely, no calling people names, no back talk, no offensive actions and body language and shouting. Set clear consequences if these rules are broken. Also, involve your teen during these discussions about rules, so you later remind that he or she helped make and agreed with the rules.
Most importantly, let your teens know exactly which behaviors are not acceptable in the household. For example, vulgar phrases, even when said as a jest, should not be allowed. The same goes with displays of anger, even if it is not aimed at anyone specifically.
Hear out your teen’s reasoning completely
There are times when teenagers are actually right in one thing, and a decision or two on your part turned out to have been less than well thought out. In this situation, it is important for parents to acknowledge their mistakes and show willingness to reconsider a rule or decision. This is also a good opportunity to teach you kids the value of accepting one’s mistakes with grace.
Firm determination to consistently stick by your rules
Persistence is among the weapons children are going to use against parents, by incessantly arguing to a demand hoping they will wear out their parents. When setting a rule or issuing a “No” answer, stick by it and be firm.
Do not allow your teens to bend the rules nor get away of its consequences no matter how long he or she wheedles and whines. A firm determination to consistently stick by your ruling or decision will teach your teens that disrespectful behavior will not get them what they want.
Stay calm and remain civil when having a difficult conversation with your teen
Whenever a difficult or heated discussion is taking place between you and your teen, it is best that you remain calm and continue coolly with whatever you have to say. Do not allow yourself to get drawn into a battle of words; try to keep the conversation civil and do not let your own anger get into your remarks. This is important if your teen reacts to a discussion with ‘attitude’, since difficult discussions are perfect opportunities to teach your teens about self composure and respect of others’ viewpoints. If you can, use humor to lighten the tone of a conversation. Being light hearted can also help diffuse a difficult situation.
Be a good role model to your kids
It might not like it, but teenagers look up to their parents throughout their lives. That why children tend to copy mannerisms of their moms and dads, take their views and leanings as their own, talk the way they do, and think the way they do. This is the reason why parents should be a good role model to their kids.
For example, children of parents who smoke and drink are several times more likely to drink and smoke once they reach the adolescence stage. Dr. Joseph I Miller III of Piedmont Heart Institute states that children are greatly influenced by those around them. If they see an adult they admire smoking, they are much more likely to pick up the habit since they will view it as something cool, grown up, or even expected. So think twice before you show to your kids habits you do not want them to pick.
image used ©Philippe Put