How to Get Your Teen to Be Respectful

The teenage years come with many developmental changes that impact the way in which teens interact with their environment. Teenagers experience changes that encourage more oppositional and defiant behavior, largely influenced by their desire for expressions of their independence, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. During this time, teens can become disrespectful of parental and adult authority, and need to learn ways to effectively balance their independence and the rules that they are subject to follow in the home, school and in society at large.

Develop open communication with your child as best you can. Spend quality time with your child and communicate to him that you would like to get to know more about his personal interests, social experiences and goals in life. Explain that you would like to strengthen the relationship between the two of you so that you all can develop a stronger sense of respect for one another. Assure him that you are just as interested in showing him respect as you are in gaining more respect from him.

Redirect disrespectful speech whenever it arises. Once you and your teen have developed a sense of open communication with one another, openly express your thoughts and feelings about the way that your child talks to you when he's being disrespectful. If your child has a tendency to say "what?" when you call him, explain that you would prefer that he say "yes?" and tell him why. Liken this respectful behavior to the way he will have to effectively communicate with professors and employers once he becomes an independent adult, and encourage him to start practicing these behaviors sooner rather than later.

Listen to what your teenager has to say, and give him space if he requires it. If your teen is demonstrating disrespectful behavior because he's had a trying day, encourage him to talk about what's bothering him, if he's open to discussing it. If he's angry, empathize with him instead of demanding that he speak to you a certain way. You can always address his disrespectful behavior later, particularly in the context of how he can improve the way that he treats others when he's angry.

Model respectful behavior in the home and with others. Show your child how to speak respectfully to others so that he sees how to demonstrate this behavior in his own life. When your teen is being disrespectful toward you, remind him that you are choosing to be respectful toward him despite the way he's treating you. Your teen will learn how to put respectful behavior into practice through the example you set forth for him.

Praise your teenager's respectful behavior whenever possible. Tell your child how much you appreciate him holding the door open for you when entering a building, or how much you admire the way he's improved his communication with you and other adults in his life. According to, teens crave praise from others because it strengthens their self-esteem, and increases happiness by simply making them feel good 4.