Get through to your defiant teen with proven techniques.

How to Handle Rude & Defiant Teens

by Erin Schreiner

From name calling to door slamming, from arguments to down-right defiance, teens’ rudeness can present itself in a variety of creative -- and, for the parent, painful -- ways. Instead of grumbling curse words under your breath and using all of your strength not to pull your hair out in fistfuls, do something to actively modify your teen’s behavior. While transforming your teen from rude and defiant to polite and rule-following won’t be easy, with continued effort, you can modify your teen’s behavior.

Use the “positive opposite” instead of saying “no.” Dr. Alan Kazdin of Yale University’s Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic urges parents to focus on what they want their teens to do instead of what they don’t want them to do. In an article for ABC News, Kazdin encourage parents to say things like, “Please put your bookbag in the hall closet,” instead of, “Don’t leave your bookbag on the floor.”

Refuse to engage in an argument. In an article for Better Parenting Institute, Dr. Vicki Panaccione says parents should think of a teen who is being defiant as inviting his parents to play a game of tug of war. Don’t pick up the rope, Panaccione suggests. By refusing to play a part in this match, you can maintain your position of power. Regardless of how hard your teen may try, don’t give in to his attempt to engage you in an argument, as giving in gives him the upper hand.

Dispense punishments immediately after offenses. If your teen does something so rude or defiant that you must punish him for it, don’t allow much time to pass between the action and your punishment, warns Kazdin. Punishments only work to change behavior if the teen can see the connection between the punishment and the behavior. If you punish him next week for something he does today, he won’t be able to see this connection and will likely only be more frustrated about having to serve the punishment.

Say more positive things than negative things. Child expert Dr. Michele Borba, in an article entitled "Tools for Getting Along with Your Teen," recommends that parents live by the rule of 80/20. This rule calls for being positive 80 percent of the time and only giving correction or critique 20 percent of the time. By following this rule, you can reduce the degree to which your teen feels like you are forever picking on her.

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

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