8 Ways to Deal With a Verbally Abusive Teenager
8 Ways to Deal With a Verbally Abusive Teenager

8 Ways to Deal With a Verbally Abusive Teenager

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone. When parents and siblings become victims of a verbally abusive teenager, what can be done to change this? How can parents respond when their teens begin to threaten and use abusive language on them?

Abusive teens often times do what they do simply because they want to exercise power and control in their environment. Parents need to understand that when teens are argumentative and begin to verbally abuse people, there is a deeper issue that needs to be addressed than the issue of the moment. Verbal abuse is often just the tip of the iceberg, a symptom of a bigger problem.

Parents dealing with this problem need to address the issue before it escalates to other forms of abuse. Aggressive, abusive teens often escalate to hurting parents or siblings, throwing things around, threatening their family members with violence, hurting pets and even damaging property. Here are 8 ways to deal with verbally abusive teens:

Don’t accept it – Many abusive teens start out by being abusive children. Some parents capitulate to the temper tantrums of their children by giving in to what they want, changing their routines, or fixing their problems for them. Over time, deep roots of defiance begin to form and the abuse continues to escalate. It’s important to make it clear that there is never an excuse for abuse. Even if your teen is fully convinced that a temper tantrum is justified based on the circumstances, choosing to be verbally abusive is never acceptable. Verbally abusive teens will always find excuses for their behavior. It’s important to consistently get the message across that no matter what their purpose is for being aggressive, it’s not an acceptable kind of behavior in your household.

Agree on house rules – Talk to your teen about the house rules, specifically ones that are about abuse. Clarify what constitutes abuse so that he/she knows what kinds of behavior are not tolerated. As you agree about the rules, agree on the consequences too. As a parent, this may mean having to make difficult decisions down the road.

Walk away – When your teen is being verbally abusive, you don’t have to engage the right away. Trying to pacify the when they are on an abusive tirade will add fuel to the fire. However, it’s important to understand that you must address the issue at some point, rather than leave it hanging. A simple “I will talk to you when you have calmed down” will suffice. Circle back to the issue later when your teen’s anger has burned itself out and they are in a better frame of mind for a conversation.

Talk about the “why” of the issue – For many teens, it’s obvious that aggression brings results. At the very least, it captures the attention of the people around them and forces them to take notice. Why then would a teen resort to a more peaceful way of resolving conflict? It takes some effort to discover the purpose of teaching respect to your teen, but taking the time to do this will help them understand that this would benefit them too.

Teach them how to solve problems Once you have taken the time to explain why it’s important to find a better way to resolve conflicts, teaching them how to achieve this should follow. Aggression is only a means to an end, and showing your teen that there is a better way to achieve the end that they want without resorting to verbal abuse is an important part of parenting. Conflicts and stress are inevitable in life. If the only way your teen knows how to handle this is through some form of aggression, he/she is ill-equipped with facing the challenges of life. They will find out sooner or later that not all people will tolerate their abuse. Not learning any other problem-solving skill sets them up for more frustration.

Hold them accountable – This applies not just to verbal abuse but to any kind of abuse that your teen uses to get his/her way or express his/her frustration. Having a culture of accountability at home is very helpful in teaching teens how to regulate their behavior. If your teen gets in trouble at school because of his aggressive behavior, hold him accountable by not shielding him from the resulting consequences of his actions. If teens never have to face the consequences of their behavior, they will repeat the same pattern of abuse everywhere they go.

Teach them how to manage anger – Verbally abusive teens often have poor anger management skills. Teach your teen a few techniques that he/she can use to manage their reaction to stressful situations. Teach your teen breathing techniques, show them how to work their way through their anger and to strategize in order to arrive at a better response. When all else fails, teach them how to walk away from an argument in order to let things cool down.

Call the police – It sounds harsh, but there are certain situations that call for such a drastic action. This is especially true when abusive teens begin to threaten you or other members of your family. Aside from containing the situation, teens can also get an idea of how their temper tantrums can get them in trouble with the law if they’re not careful.

What will happen if you call the police?

Parents are often hesitant to call the police to help them with managing an aggressive teen for fear that their teen will be taken away from them or will get into some serious legal trouble. However, when police are called to such scenarios, they often just talk to teens and tell them what will happen if they escalate their aggression. Parents can also be educated on what their other options are when dealing with aggressive teens.

Can therapeutic boarding schools help?

In some cases, yes. Therapeutic boarding schools can take abusive teens out of their homes and put them in an environment where they can learn better ways to express themselves while receiving therapy. Mental health experts may also help you rule out the possibility or a mood disorder.