Is your teenager being disrespectful, or simply evolving into a young adult? As teens mature, there is a natural progression of breaking away from the parents, which can be confused with actual demeaning, rude or hurtful behavior. While teens need to experience this breaking away, they also need to adhere to your rules and boundaries. Here are five things to remember when your teen has attitude.
Distinguish between venting and abuse
Parents need to decide where they will draw the line in terms of disrespect. If your teen mumbles under his breath or rolls his eyes after a simple request, he may just be venting and the behavior is best ignored. Yelling, "I hate you!" when asked to do something is disrespectful and should be reprimanded.
Deal with behavior objectively
Remain calm while you decide how to deal with the disrespectful behavior. Whether this is the first time or the fiftieth, think about the behavior without thinking about the teen. Being able to separate the behavior from the offender may help you determine the best action. According to Michele Borba, Ed.D., it is best to pick your battles. "Choose what is not negotiable. You don't want to argue every little issue, so select issues you really do care about and won't deviate from. Then let those other more minor issues go."
Accountability with consequences
Teenagers need to be held accountable for their behavior. When you are consistent with your expectations, teens know there will be a consequence for crossing the line. Try to make the consequence fit the misbehavior for the greatest impact. If your teen was rude during dinnertime, have him be responsible for clearing the table and washing the dishes that night.
It's nothing personal
While your teen's behavior can feel like a personal attack, rest assured that it isn't. In order to become competent young adults, they need to test their boundaries in a setting where they feel safe. Teens need to become independent and parents are there to guide the process.
Set an example of respect
Do you model what a respectful relationship looks like? If you find yourself yelling and calling your teen names when you are arguing, chances are they will resort to the same behaviors. When you show that you value respect, your teenager is more likely to value it also.
If you work with your teen to help them learn respectful behavior at home, being respectful to others will likely become second nature.