How to Discipline Disrespectful Teens

As your child navigates the complex teenage years, he may struggle to discover and assert his independence while still respecting your rules and guidance. As a result, you might face some disrespectful behavior from your teen, whether he ignores your rules, lashes out at you or his siblings, or acts disrespectful toward authority figures, such as his teachers. Disciplining your teen for disrespectful behavior can help remedy the problem, but some disciplinary techniques work better than others when it comes to teens.


Calm down before disciplining your teen. When your teen displays disrespectful behavior, you instinctively want to point it out, lecture her and punish her immediately. However, in the heat of the moment, you might say something you regret or institute an unfairly harsh punishment. Moreover, yelling is an ineffective long-term disciplinary technique for teens, according to the Iowa State University Extension 1. Instead, note the disrespectful behavior, walk away from the volatile situation and schedule a time to talk to your teen about the problem.


Talk to your teen about respect. Rather than arguing when you are angry about something your teen has said, set aside time to discuss the importance of respecting parents, siblings, peers and teachers. Discuss behavior that is respectful and behavior that is disrespectful. Ask your teen to identify times when he has displayed both respectful and disrespectful behavior. Point out instances when you've noticed his disrespect, whether he ignored his curfew or acted out in class despite his teacher's pleas for respectful behavior. By opening your teen's eyes to disrespectful behavior, he'll be more aware when it happens.

Effective Punishments

Short-term punishments are the most effective for teenagers, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Punishments should last for a few hours or days rather than weeks on end. Grounding can be effective, but tie it to the disrespectful behavior. For example, if your teen disrespected her brother by using and breaking his cell phone, require her to earn money through babysitting or household chores so that she can buy him a new phone. Punishments should do more than simply block your teen from doing something pleasurable; they should also teach a lesson about the importance of respect.

Causes of Disrespectful Behavior

Seattle Children's Hospital explains that many teens have complex reasons for misbehaving beyond poor impulse control or rebellion 2. Understanding the causes of your child's disrespectful behavior can help you improve his long-term attitude. While disciplining your teen for disrespectful behavior is important, so is understanding the underlying cause of the behavior. This is why having an honest discussion with your teen while disciplining him is important.