How to Stop Disrespectful Teens

By Candice Coleman
A disrespectful teenager may mock or ignore his mother.
A disrespectful teenager may mock or ignore his mother.

A disrespectful teenager may ignore household rules, stay out past curfew or mock family members, among other behaviors. The teenage years can be a time of great change for the entire family, and power struggles and resentment may rise to the surface. While parents may be eager to give disrespectful teenagers a taste of their own medicine, paying poor treatment back in kind will likely fan the flames of a fight. Learning how to communicate with your teenager may reduce or stop disrespectful behavior.

Ask yourself if your teenager is being disrespectful, or if he has different ideas and values than the rest of his family. Disagreeing is not the same as disrespect, done correctly. A teenager may also become resentful if he feels that he cannot be independent. Give your teen a little wiggle room, like deciding what clothes or hairstyles he will wear, to avoid a power struggle.

Examine your family's circumstances and other problems that may be contributing to a teenager's disrespectful behavior. Substance abuse, depression and chronic family fighting could encourage disrespectful behavior, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Addressing these underlying problems by talking it out as a family, visiting a doctor or seeing a family counselor could reduce disrespectful behavior.

Model respectful behavior for everyone around you. Children and teenagers learn by example, and mothers and fathers who disregard others' opinions or scream at others to communicate a point may get the same treatment from their children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Ask plenty of questions and keep calm when tensions rise. Give yourself a momentary time-out if a conversation gets heated, and apologize if you were disrespectful or inconsiderate of others in the family.

Issue discipline that focuses on what you need from your child, rather than assigning blame. If you are upset about a teenager who broke curfew, you may tell your daughter, "I noticed you stayed out late last night. I was worried about you and I couldn't get to sleep. I hope you will come home tonight at 10 o'clock like we talked about before." Explaining yourself can help teenagers empathize with your needs, which may lead to less disrespectful behavior in the future, according to KidsHealth.

Discuss disrespectful behavior at a time when everyone is in a good mood. Avoid being confrontational. Instead, you may want to tell your son, "I've noticed that our discussions lately have been heated. I am bothered by the tone and language used when we talk lately. Have you felt the same way?" Keep in mind that your teenager may also feel that you are being disrespectful. Remain non-judgmental and show your teenager that you too are willing to consider changing your behavior.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.