How to parent difficult & disrespectful teenagers

Written by kay ireland
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When your teenager is being disrespectful and belligerent, it can be difficult to not descend to their level, or assert your authority in the wrong way. Teenagers are constantly testing their boundaries and subsequently you. Understanding how to deal with disrespectful behaviour can help you foster a relationship of calm mutual respect between you and your troublesome teen. Yelling and fighting, harsh discipline or losing your temper won't get you anywhere with a disrespectful teen--it's time to try a different method of parenting.

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    Give your teen responsibilities, but choose them wisely. A teen may be disrespectful because he doesn't feel respected. Giving him meaningful responsibilities can help his self worth, especially if it's an important task. Instead of giving him jobs such as cleaning his room, choose something more important, such as dropping a sibling off at a weekly activity or monitoring homework. You may find that there is a more respectful teen waiting inside and you just need to bring it out by showing him that you trust him with important tasks.

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    Offer choices to your teen instead of simply telling her what she is expected to do. Think back to when she was a small child--abstract choices were daunting, but narrowing down those choices helped her to more easily decide. Giving a few choices to your teen can help them to feel more in control of their own lives, resulting in a more pleasant, less disrespectful child. Instead of ordering her to get better grades, have her choose between improving a grade level or joining an extra-curricular activity.

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    Give yourself a timeout when you feel like your temper is rising. Don't let yourself disrespect your teen, or let him see you lose your temper, shout or say hurtful things that you may regret. If you're in a heated discussion, excuse yourself for a few moments until you can come back with a more rational approach. Your teen will see the correct way to handle being difficult and may be more apt to agree with you once he's noticed that you are being more respectful toward him.

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    Give your teen a safe environment in which to communicate with you, where you won't lose your temper and can talk to her as an equal. If you tend to talk more in the car, start conversations while you're driving. You'll find that once your teenager feels like she can open up toward you, that she may be more compliant and see you as more than just the nagging parent.

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    Choose your battles wisely. If you constantly find yourself yelling or disciplining your teen for small things, take a minute to realise what message you are sending to your teen. That perhaps, you have trouble looking past the things that he does to the person that he is. Create a rating scale for actions, words and attitude that you would normally fight about. Anything under a seven on the rating scale for disrespect might not be worth arguing about. Change the mood in the home, starting with yourself, to see positive changes in your difficult teen.

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