Are you dealing with a disrespectful teenager?
Maybe he mutters under his breath when you ask him to do his homework.
Or maybe she slams her bedroom door when you tell her she can’t go out with her friends.
If so, you’re probably at your wits’ end.
You love your teenagers and you want the best for them.
But you also want them to accept that there are rules in your family, just as there are rules in the outside world.
Don’t be alarmed. Disrespect towards parents is common as youngsters navigate the waters between childhood and adulthood.
But you can’t deal with disrespect by simply ignoring it.
You need a strategy. There are things you need to do, and things you need to avoid doing.
This article explains 10 tips for successfully handling disrespectful teenagers.
1. Understand the teenage brain
During childhood, there’s tremendous brain development. By age six, 95% of the brain’s structure has already been formed.
Picture it as a sudden development of the wiring of the brain.
The problem is that the new wiring hasn’t yet been connected to the key parts of the brain.
As Molly Edmonds writes, the teenage brain is like an entertainment centre whose components haven’t yet been hooked up.
There are loose wires everywhere. The speaker system hasn’t been connected to the DVD player. And the DVD player hasn’t been configured to work with the TV.
And as for the remote control – it hasn’t even arrived yet!
In this analogy, the remote control is the prefrontal cortex.
That’s the part of the brain that weighs outcomes, forms judgments, and controls impulses and emotions. But in the teenage brain, it hasn’t been properly connected yet.
What does this mean in practice?
It means teenagers can get frustrated easily, with themselves and with external situations. It makes them impulsive and subject to mood swings that you and I don’t experience.
That’s a heady cocktail that can turn teenagers into emotional wrecks.
Understanding that there’s a biological basis for your teenager’s difficult behaviour makes it much easier to deal with.
It helps you to focus on the behaviour rather than the person.
2. Think about the emotional needs underlying the behaviour
When teenagers are disrespectful to their parents, it’s sometimes a sign that they have emotional needs that aren’t being met.
Sometimes the disrespectful behaviour is a way of getting attention.
Other times, it’s an indication that they don’t feel accepted.
Sit down with your teenager and tell her that you’re there for her if she wants to talk about something. Remind her that you love her unconditionally. [Read more…]