How To Deal With An Argumentative and Back Talking Teenager

Parenting a back talking and argumentative teenager is not just frustrating but also emotionally draining. Parents would often feel that their teens do not listen to anything they say. But surprisingly, your teen will most likely feel that their parents do not listen to them as well. Teens who backtalk challenges the parent’s authority causing them to lose their patience which often leads to a power struggle and eventually, an argument often occurs. Arguments between parents and teens can very well impact the relationship that they have.

How Does Arguing Affect a Parent-Teen Relationship?

It’s damaging for any relationship whenever arguments are an everyday habit, especially if both parties are unable to discuss any topic without it ending into a verbal fight. As a pattern of daily bickering starts, the parents and teens tend to stop listening to each other and is focused on making sure their individual points are being heard. As a result, proper communication between parents and teens diminishes with time as negative interactions often take place. The teenager feels that their parents does not understand them and starts to back talk or tells lies as a defense towards their parent’s opposing reactions and punishments. The more hurtful words or negative interactions exchanged, the more gap exists in the relationship between parents and teens.

How Can I Stop My Teen From Arguing and Back Talking?

A teen who makes a habit of talking back or starting arguments with you already needs to be dealt with accordingly because it’s not healthy anymore to be argumentative on a regular basis. There are parents who often let these negative behaviors slip to avoid more hassles and confrontations as they feel it’s useless to argue with a teen who doesn’t listen. The thing is, it is important to correct a negative behavior by teaching your teen how to express their views in a more appropriate and respectful way. It doesn’t mean that parents should let their teens have their way but through proper intervention, your teen will eventually learn how to voice out their opinion without having to disrespect others.

Here’s how you can deal with an argumentative and back talking teen:

1. Avoid arguing back  

If you allow yourself to get even more angry at your teen, it will only cause more feelings of resentment and defiance from them. It always takes two people for an argument to happen so instead of arguing back, avoid discussing further with your teen whenever the conversation turns into a heated argument. Either you take a timeout or continue with the discussion when you both have already calmed down. It might help to say that you will only listen to their protests if they lower down their voice. The thing about discussing things in an angry mood is the ability to say anything hurtful out of anger. Something that you might regret later on.

2. Negotiate with them

It’s natural for a person to have a sense of control in their lives. When your teens  hears a “no” from the parents, they feel that they are left with no other choices and ends up more distant and defiant towards their parents. A more appropriate approach should be to let your teens know that you’re willing to discuss about the issue and provide a compromise as long as they’ll agree to do it in a respectful and calm manner. To understand your teen’s sentiments and situation, listen well to what they have to say and ask questions whenever needed. Reiterate anything that your teen asks or says in order to make sure if you are indeed on the same level of understanding. Doing so can also help you figure out where your teen has gotten their opinions from.

3. Provide your teens with responsibility

Teens often despise being treated like children and mostly prefers to handle adult responsibilities as they claimed to be old enough to handle them. With this, you can allow them to make decisions on their own provided that they do not take away their parent’s power of authority. They should still do their responsibilities, otherwise, they will follow what their parents exactly ask them to do.

For example, as your teen argues with you regarding their bedtime, let them go to bed whenever they want but they should be able to wake up in time for school the next day and that their grades won’t fail. If their grades do go down as a result, then your teen will probably understand why it’s important for them to go to bed early. Sometimes teens should learn the hard way but more importantly, let them know that you are there if ever they needed help.

4. Use a different time or location

Avoid bringing up a sensitive issue in a specific setting or place where your teens usually starts an argument. If you observed that your teen often initiates an argument during mealtime, for example, then you can probably try saving an important discussion for a different place and time instead of the dinner table at mealtime. You can initiate and talk about the important issue one-on-one before bedtime or early in the morning before going to school. As much as possible, do not do things that will let your teen associate an argument with that of a regular family activity.


Previously, a study conducted by the University of Virginia in the U.S. observed that teens who were encouraged to properly express their opinions or talking back calmly to their parents are 40% more likely to reject alcohol or drugs offered by their peers. Researchers encourages parents to consider this type of argument with their kids as a critical training ground for them to learn how to disagree instead of seeing it as a hindrance to learning.

All parents and teens argue at some point but it’s in the quality of arguments that makes all the difference. Teens who argue calmly and convincingly should be rewarded or praised but not tolerate them when they yell, whine and express insult or threat. Parents who respect what their teens think and what opinions they hold are more likely to have kids who are independent thinkers who find it easy to abstain from their peers.

As parents, we think of different ways to teach our teens to help them become respectful and responsible adults. In order to handle argumentative and back talking teens, you have to basically be connected with them and view your role as a coach or teacher. Teaching our teens on how to properly resolve conflicts and expressing their anger in a healthy way will reduce the power that back talk and anger brings.