Rudeness and the Teen: Strategies For Parents


The average teen can be rebellious, sullen, moody and mouthy. If you have a teenage child, then at one point or another they are going to talk back.

Rather than being resigned to a life of rudeness, parents should arm themselves with some strategies for open and respectful communication.

Anthony E. Wolf author of Get out of my life, but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the mall?: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager offers these tips:

  • Disengage, don’t lecture. When the backtalk is just rude, or hurtful, simply disengage from your teen and do not respond. When you ignore harsh backtalk, kids will learn to tone it down and be more respectful if they want any sort of response from you.
  • Water off a duck’s back. Don’t let your teen’s tone rattle you. Simply repeat your request in a calmer tone to teach your teen to respond in a more respectful manner.
  • Show that you are flexible. Listen to your teen’s point of view, and on occasion change your mind about the ground rules.
  • Put it in context: Differentiate between backtalk at home and backtalk in society. Remember that teenagers are developing their identities. When they back talk at home it’s about testing the boundaries of self-expression. If they back talk to teachers, your friends, or to other parents then it’s rude.

It may seem that your teen is out of hand talking back and asserting their needs, but your teen is actually just developing the skills they need to be assertive and stand up for what they believe in later on. Your job is to make sure that they can accomplish this and still be respectful to others, and to you.



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