A teenager caught up in a circle of disrespect and rebellion can be an extreme challenge for any parent. When a teenager won’t respect authority and follow rules, the situation can quickly escalate into a crisis. Get your teen’s attention to stop the negative momentum, seeking outside assistance and intervention, if necessary.
As children reach adolescence, it’s normal for them to seek an individual identity, separate from parents, according to WebMD. This involves questioning standards and testing limits, especially if parents’ values differ from what kids see and hear from peers and in the media. Teenagers must learn how to balance this budding independence with continued respect for parents. Parents can help with this process by teaching and emulating respect for teens.
When you want respect from your teenager, set an example of the behavior you want by treating your teenager respectfully. The Parenting.org website suggests that parents model courtesy and politeness to encourage a teen to speak civilly in response. Listen to your teenager when she speaks, to demonstrate respect. Give your child room to make some decisions, to show that you value her thinking skills and to give her practice making decisions. Avoid threatening physical force with your teenager, to set the proper example for resolving issues and differences.
House rules are important for establishing expectations. If your teens don’t know the rules, they may have a hard time following them. Write down the rules you want family members to follow. Examples of basic house rules include: treating others with respect, speaking honestly, following curfew rules, earning minimum grades in school and performing assigned household chores. Present the rules to your teenager and discuss them so that everyone knows the expectations. Explain the consequences of disobeying the rules, so your teen will understand ramifications of breaking the rules. You and your teen should both sign the rules, to indicate that you both understand and agree with the rules.
Stay connected with your teenager. Supervise your teen’s conduct, stay involved with activities, ask questions and enforce expectations, suggests the Iowa State University. If your teenager does not follow the house rules, act swiftly with promised consequences. Consistency will be paramount to proving to your teenager that you mean what you say. For example, if you told your teenager that you would not give her rides to school if she breaks curfew and she doesn’t come home on time, your teen needs to find an alternative way to school. Ensure that every rule infraction meets with a consequence to show your teenager that your expectations are solid and unwavering.
When you receive disrespect from your teenager, handle the issues proactively to reach resolution. Some teenagers have an inflated opinion of their status and position, thinking that they have the authority to make decisions that should be the parents' decisions. This situation will require ongoing discussions with your teen to communicate your decision about the specific situation. Maintain civility and self-control during these conversations. The Empowering Parents website advises parents to look for areas where you can compromise to give your teenager more control and choices. There will be some times when the teen will need to give in and comply with the parent’s authority, though. At these times, handle the situation with mature authority.
If your teenager refuses to respect your authority and obey the house rules, you may need to involve professionals. Your teen may need help with anger and stress management, according to the Parents Universal Resource Experts website. Your teen can receive support and therapy to work through anger issues.