Most teens are surly and mouthy at some point. If your teen girl makes snide comments, indulges in disdainful sneers or mutters under her breath often, there is a need to be concerned. How to deal with the behavior when it happens can be a tough challenge. While responding in kind can be the most immediate temptation, it is against your responsibility as a parent to set an example. Teens need to know that there are boundaries in the way they speak to people. It is also important that they understand that nobody knows everything, and they need to learn from others by listening.
1. Establish the Cause
The teen years make up a stage where your child is learning to express herself and gain independence from parental control. Your teen girl may be using disrespectful back talk to assert herself. She may also be using back talk to express her disgust with events in the family, such as parental conflicts. Understanding the cause allows you to address back talk from its roots. It also allows you an opportunity to teach your teen girl how to communicate her frustrations without coming out as disrespectful.
2. Model a Good Example
Children grow up mimicking their parents' behaviors, and they do so even as teenagers. Your teen girl is more likely to be rude and talk back to you if you do the same to your spouse and children. The Focus on the Family website advises that you model what you want your teen to do. For example, if you use sarcasm or shout back at people, your teen will figure it is okay for her to do the same. Explain what you want in a calm and respectful manner, and let her finish talking before you respond. Also, remember that respect comes easily when there is time to bond and be friends with your child.
If your teen girl talks back and you don’t set firm limits about what you expect, you are training her to do it often, according to Empowering Parents, an online resource that gives parents advice based on cognitive behavioral therapy principles. Let your teen girl know that there are consequences for back talk, and follow through with promised consequences when it happens. For example, if she answers you back sarcastically, let her give other responses until you are satisfied with her answer.
4. Be Patient
Remember that although she looks like a grown-up, your teen girl is not completely rational. She thinks differently from you and may not see things from your perspective. Be patient with her, pay attention to her concerns and opinion, and help her to see that you are on her side. Take a subtle approach and always keep communication lines open. If she makes effort, be quick to compliment and reward her. For example, if you ask her what time she will do homework and answers appropriately without adding unnecessarily rude comments, let her know that you notice and appreciate.
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