Ideas for Disciplining a Rude Preteen

By Tiffany Raiford
Rude behavior isn't fun, but it is common in preteens.
Rude behavior isn't fun, but it is common in preteens.

Rudeness is an obnoxious, frustrating and sometimes embarrassing issue to deal with. When your preteen suddenly develops an attitude that inspires her to say whatever she wants without concern for your feelings, it might make you wonder if you’ve done something wrong. Instead of spending your time wondering where you may have gone wrong as a parent, know that a negative attitude is a typical occurrence in the preteen years and focus your energy on using effective discipline to deal with the rudeness in your house.

Create Rules and Consequences in Advance

When your kids are fully aware of the fact that they will suffer an unpleasant consequence for rude behavior before they behave in a rude manner, they are less likely to be rude. Sit your preteen down and discuss what type of behavior is and is not acceptable, such as rolling her eyes, saying “whatever” with a rude tone or using rude language when speaking to you. Inform her that these offenses will be met with a consequence of your choosing and enforced after the first offense. According to Kevin Leman, Ph.D. and author, the trick is to make sure you actually do enforce the consequences, even if your kids try to reason with you.


According to the Children’s Trust Fund of Massachusetts, a program designed to teach and strengthen families, grounding is a form of punishment that works for teens and preteens. When your preteen is rude to you or someone else, simply ground him. All you have to do is choose a time frame for grounding and implement the punishment immediately. For example, tell your preteen he may not leave the house all weekend if his behavior is rude.

Taking Privileges

Another great and effective form of discipline is the loss of a privilege. This is not as severe as being grounded and unable to participate in any fun for an entire week or weekend, but it is an effective punishment. The key is to take away something your preteen finds fun, such as her cell phone, computer or television privileges. Take it away all day for smaller offenses or all weekend for exceptionally rude behavior.

Pay Back

Restitution is a type of discipline that may work for certain rude offenses. According to the Children’s Trust Fund, restitution is a way to make a wrong right again. For example, say your preteen calls her cousin stupid for failing a test at school. Instead of grounding her or taking something away from her, make her pay her cousin back by tutoring her after school every day.

Punish Short-Term

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, when the punishment you inflict on your teen is too long, it is not very effective. The AAP recommends disciplining your child for short periods of time, such as hours instead of days. Anything longer than 24 hours can lose its effectiveness.

About the Author

Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.