The adolescent years are often a turbulent time as teens are struggling to find their identities and express individuality. They're also starting to become independent and becoming increasingly aware of how others, especially their peers, see them -- and they want to fit in. All this change and pressure on your teen can result in rude behavior. However, as a parent, you have to make it clear that rudeness is unacceptable. Effectively parenting a teenager is a balancing act between setting boundaries and allowing for independent exploration. Likewise, your teen has a responsibility to meet you halfway and treat you with respect.
Keep your cool. If your teen reacts with a rude comment or gives you "attitude" while you're having a conversation, take a deep breath and continue talking calmly. Do not shout to get his attention or in response to his comment. Remember that you're the adult. If you're too angry to continue the conversation, walk away and take a breather, but do whatever it takes to keep from returning disrespect with disrespect.
Do not engage your teen if she is behaving rudely and wants you to respond to her. Tell her that you will listen to her whenever she can talk to you calmly, but until then, you have nothing to say to her. No matter how rude and obnoxious she acts, don't respond. Let her know, however, that you're available anytime for a rational, respectful conversation, and stick with it. She might need to talk in the middle of the night, but if she's not being rude, keep up your end of the bargain.
Discuss rules and consequences with your teen. For example, explain to your teen that if he talks back to you or hangs up when you are speaking to him on the phone that there will be certain consequences for such behavior. Make the consequences clear to your teen such as the loss of cellphone or Internet privileges for a set amount of time. Ensure that your teen understands the rules and consequences. Also keep in mind that enforcing the consequences is just as important as establishing them. If you don't carry out the set consequences when your teen is rude, he is not likely to work on changing his behavior.
Pick your battles. Confronting your teen about every little thing can make him feel like you're picking on him, which can make him more argumentative. Underage drinking is a big issue; a messy room isn't.
Praise your teen for what he does well. Build his self-esteem by telling him you're proud of him. Let him know that you do notice when he does kind and respectful things.
Seek professional help if the rudeness is out of control. For example, a teen who is physically violent or threatens physical violence, uses drugs or engages in self-harm is not just being rude; she has more serious problems. The sooner you seek outside intervention for these behaviors, the better.
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