How to Correct Attitudes in Teens

By Kathryn Hatter
If he cops an attitude, pull in the reins to teach a lesson.
If he cops an attitude, pull in the reins to teach a lesson.

A teenager sporting a negative or feisty attitude can be anything but pleasant for a parent. Your teen is working toward independence and autonomy, so some degree of attitude seems to accompany this process. Even so, there's nothing wrong with setting some ground rules for expectations so everyone knows the game plan. With clear expectations and connected consequences, your teen can have an opportunity to learn self-control and respect for others.

Focus on your child's behavior, not the attitudes, suggests Megan Devine, parental support line advisor with the Empowering Parents website. You can't force anyone to change an attitude, including a teenager. Instead, focus on what you can resolve and target -- your teen's behavior or lack thereof.

Institute rules of conduct that you will insist your child obey, suggests the Iowa State University. These "house rules" will be the requirements you set for your teenager. He must bring himself into subjection and obedience of these rules or he will deal with specific consequences for misbehavior.

Create a connected consequence for each rule, if broken. Generally, consequences are most effective when they have a direct connection and correlation with the rule. Detached and disconnected rules lack logic -- especially to teens. Teens may understand and feel more motivated to cooperate with rules and consequences when they make sense, offers the University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line.

Detach from your child's anger and other negative emotions that he might use to try to control situations. Explain to your child that he doesn't need to agree with or like the rules, but he does need to comply or experience consequences, advises Devine.

Offer positive reinforcement and encouragement when you notice your child's attitude improving and when you see your child making positive choices. Verbal feedback and praise of the positive attitude can be an effective way to motivate people of any age.

Treat your teenager with respect to encourage a cooperative and respectful attitude from him. When you treat your child with respect, he may raise his behavior up to the level you set as a natural response. Even if he makes mistakes, he can learn from them and move forward using his experiences to shape future decisions and activities.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.