How to Deal With Defiant Pre Teens

By Laura Agadoni

It should come as no surprise to learn that parents and preteens are often at odds with each other. Most parents can commiserate about common bad behaviors, namely rudeness, anger, sloppiness, bossiness and general bratty behavior. If you are at your wit's end trying to get along with your defiant preteen, you may be surprised to learn that the parent often plays a large role in creating disruptive and negative behaviors. Fortunately, there are things parents can do to turn around a bad situation.

What Parents Can Do

Become aware that your child has insecurities. Preteens really do need their parents and are still very dependent on them. Because the defiant child does not know how to tell you that he needs you, he acts out in defiant ways. By first understanding this, you may be able to soothe your child and give him what he needs.

Establish trust. This is not easy to do with a defiant preteen. They are prone to shutting out their parents. Despite this, the parent needs to be caring and loving. You have to convince your child that you can be a comfort to her.

Notice your preteen's likes and dislikes. Observe if he prefers you to use a laid back or a focused approach during conversations, for example. Sometimes it is easier to talk to preteens while doing something else, such as driving, cooking or maybe shooting baskets together.

Approach your preteen slowly. If you are entering her room, for example, stop to notice what she is doing, respecting her boundary. Stay calm and speak quietly. Your goal is to get a conversation and a relationship going. If she is playing a game on the computer, for example, ask her about it.

Set limits. You must remember that you are limiting the aggression and bad behavior. You are not limiting giving him comfort and security. You want to maintain the trust, but you do not want to let the child get away with bad behavior. Tell your child what the rules and expectations are in advance, and make him follow through with those rules. Do not get into screaming matches with your preteen when there is trouble. Remain calm and patient, and stick with your rules.

Teach your child to be self-aware. When your preteen makes a rude remark, such as complaining how spicy the dinner is, you can insert some humor by saying something with a smile like, "Oh, I hope you don't fire me." That lets her know it is not her place to criticize her parent's dinner efforts so rudely, while diffusing some of the anger with a joke. Be careful not to come across as patronizing though. An example would be, "Oh, I know how sensitive your little mouth is."