Reducing Disrespect From Your Teen

As a parent, you love unconditionally, and only want what’s best for your teenager. But sometimes, that love and affection can be misinterpreted, and leads to back-talk, disrespect and anger from your teen. This is a problem that almost every parent has faced at some point while raising a teenager; know that you are not alone. Don’t blame yourself, and don’t blame your teen; instead, try to understand why it is happening. Here’s what you can do to establish a better rapport between your adolescent and yourself: 

Disrespectful teenager with attitude sits on a dock.

Analyze the Situation

Try to get to the root of your child’s disrespectful behavior. Did they ask for permission, which you denied, evoking a snarky retort from them? Or did they roll their eyes at you because they asked you a question and you said something along the lines of, “because I said so”? Sometimes, an act of disrespect is actually your child’s frustration coming out. You are the parent, and mostly, it is your duty to mend relationships, because although they believe themselves to be the adult, in truth, you are. It is therefore important that you take the first step and communicate to them that you are open to what they have to say, and they don’t need to feel frustrated as long as they try to explain their perspective to you, and vice versa. Don’t expect this to work the first time, it will take time for your patterns of communication to change, but if you keep at it, both you and your teen will see the difference.

Give to Receive

Teenagers are stuck in this limbo between childhood and adulthood, and as nothing around them makes sense, they try create autonomy as some form of stability, helping them exert control over at least one aspect of their life. You can’t treat them like children, and can’t expect them to comply with rules without an explanation. If your daughter asks for an extended curfew, and you just say no, it may come across as lack of trust on your part. You have to gently explain your reasoning, and try saying something like, “I know you want to stay out a bit later, but we have to get up early tomorrow to go to a family function and we both know that when you don’t get enough sleep it is hard for you to get up”. Once you talk to them with respect, they will view you as someone deserving of their respect. Look for opportunities to increase their autonomy. At times find a comprise on their desire to extend curfew that you can see as reasonable and create a check-in time if you are feeling a little nervous about extending the curfew.  For example, “I am feeling a little worried letting you stay out to 1am, how about you call me at 11pm to let me know how everything is going and that you are being safe.” As much you hate it, the truth is they are growing up, and must be talked to as adolescents reaching adulthood.

Choose your Battles

Parents can be embarrassing to a teenager; it’s a general rule of life. You were probably at some point embarrassed by your parents, your parents were embarrassed of theirs, and it went on and on for generations before you, and will continue to go on till the end of time. When you say something goofy, your children will probably smirk at you, or roll their eyes, and sigh. They may even call you “weird” or other name. Don’t take these too personally or make a big deal out of them. Sometimes, you can even be amused by how much your cheesy behavior may affect their “cool status”. So don’t hold on and to every little sign of “disrespect” and punish them for it. If, however, you feel that their behavior is specifically directed to hurt you or others around you, you need to take action and call them out for it. If you nag constantly about every little thing, they will build up a tolerance to your words, and you will cease to affect them on an emotional level.

These interactions will take time before they show you results, but perseverance is key, and eventually, you will soon begin to see a transformation take place.

If you are struggling with communication or behavior issues with your teen, a psychotherapist that specializes in teen behavior issues can help.  Learn more by contacting Jennie Marie at

Photo by Mikail Duran on Unsplash