How to Make Defiant Teenagers More Responsible

Experiencing defiance from a teenager can be a difficult situation for everyone. The frequent misbehavior and challenging of household rules may feel exhausting to a parent. Everyone involved -- the teen, the rest of the family and you -- will benefit when you institute clear limits for your child. With time and effort, you may even encourage more responsible behavior from your teenager.

Reconnect with your teenager to resolve the defiance, suggests Dr. Laura Markham, with the Aha! Parenting website 1. Markham asserts that without a connection between parents and teenagers, teenagers often act defiantly. Reach out to your teen, speak compassionately, use empathy to engage with your child and listen respectfully when he speaks. Show your love in your words and your actions to rebuild a relationship based on trust and respect.

Apologize for past mistakes in mishandling situations with your teenager. If you treated him disrespectfully or unfairly, apologize and tell your teenager that you intend to handle situations more positively going forward.

Create clear limits for your teenager that you will not waver from or compromise, advises Dr. James Dobson, Ph.D. Once you create the limits, establish clear consequences for each rule to make a tandem system that will operate within your family to ensure that everyone acts responsibly. Your teen must act responsibly by adhering to the limits, and you must act responsibly by following through with promised consequences.

Explain the limits and consequences to your teen so he understands your expectations. Make it clear to your teen that you will expect him to adhere to the rules and that you will enforce them with the stated consequences.

Monitor your teenager’s conduct to ensure that he complies with your limits. The new limits are your establishment of new respect in your family, according to Janet Lehman, MSW, with the Empowering Parents website. A teen may test and push limits or accept them with little strife. If you find that your teen has broken a rule or skirted a requirement, follow through with consequences as you promised. Don’t deliver consequences with harsh anger, though. Speak calmly and respectfully to tell your teenager that he broke a rule so he will deal with the consequence. For example, if he fails to perform his chores, he cannot use the family car.


Consider instituting a behavioral agreement between you and your teenager. Enumerate the rules you have instituted and the consequences for infractions. Include the ways you will help and support your teenager, such as providing rides, paying school fees and doing laundry, also. Both you and your teenager should sign the agreement.