Dealing With A Defiant Teen
Tips for dealing with a teenager who is angry and doesn’t want to listen. It’s not easy, but these tips can help your family bond again. Learn 7 action items that parents can do to regain their influence and connection with their teenager again.
* This video does NOT apply to children with significant trauma or who have been diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
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How To Deal With A Defiant Teen
It can be frustrating when your teenager acts defiant toward you. You’ve tried to raise them with love and support, but now they’re pushing back and rebelling against everything you say or do. How do you deal with this situation?
Hello, my name is Kristina Campos. I am the founder of the Impactful Parent. Every week I give you parenting videos that can help you in your parenting journey. If you have a particular topic or parenting question about your school-aged child that you would like me to address, please submit it at [email protected] or by messaging me on social media. All submissions are kept anonymous.
Today, I will give tips for dealing with a defiant teenager. This isn’t going to be an easy episode. I will get honest about some shifts you must make in your life, and you probably won’t like what I say. But, if you are ready to see a change in your household because you’re done with the defiant behaviors, this episode is for you. I got 7 Big Tips and stick around to the end because it is the last one that is the most important of all! Let’s get started!
How To Deal With A Defiant Teenager: Let go of your need for control.
A common mistake parents make when dealing with a teen with a defiant attitude is to try and maintain control over every aspect of their lives. They do this because they feel teenagers must be influenced, shaped, and molded to become responsible young adults. But the truth is:
- Your window of total control is over. Your child is old enough now to make their own choices. Yes, you can make their life so miserable (like taking away their phone, privileges, and friends) that they want to comply; however, it is still your child’s choice to comply.
- The more you squeeze, the more your teenager will slip through your fingers. Every teenager will assert independence, self-reliance, and separation from their parents. This is normal behavior for any animal getting ready to leave the nest. These same adolescents will instinctually push back and rebel even more if they aren’t allowed some capacity for freedom. The teen brain is begging to act grown up and independent because it’s subconsciously testing the waters and learning, so it is prepared for adult life.
- As soon as you give up on trying to control everything, you’ll find yourself much more at ease and able to move forward in the relationship. This doesn’t mean giving up all authority and letting them do whatever they want. They will still need rules; however, it just means accepting that you’re not in charge anymore.
How To Deal With A Defiant Teenager: Get help from a professional if necessary.
Asking for help isn’t easy, but neither is changing! I can tell you to let go of your need for control, and you could be nodding your head in agreement but doing it… well, that’s a whole different ball game! Normalize asking for help and being proactive about your personal betterment, self-improvement, and mental health by getting a counselor or psychologist. In fact, this is such good role modeling that I would encourage you to get a therapist for your child too! The extra help is priceless, and it might be the only way to see significant changes quicker.
How To Deal With A Defiant Teenager: Sometimes it is not personal. Change your perspective to see beyond your teen’s defensive behaviors.
This one is tough because you’re human too. It’s tempting to feel like your teen intentionally tries to get you mad. Sometimes, having teens is like being in an abusive relationship that you’re supposed to ignore! Kids can do and say the most horrible things to parents, and we are supposed to take it. Why? Parents are supposed to be the SAFE SPACE. “I will love you no matter what.” And because parents love their kids unconditionally, we often get dumped on with negative emotions that our teen doesn’t know how to process or deal with. Teenagers are still learning how to deal with all the new emotions puberty presents. Frankly- sometimes they don’t have the skills to deal with these big feelings productively yet. This means that your teen may be having a bad day and lashing out at you. Your teenager may be angry at someone else but taking it out on you. They might feel overwhelmed by the world and need time alone to process their feelings.
It can be challenging for parents not to fall into the trap of thinking about why their child is “defiant.” Still, it’s important not to focus on those things if you want a positive change in your relationship with them. Remember that sometimes it is not about you. This is where your solution should be teaching your child coping skills and role-modeling better ways to express anger, frustration, and sadness.
How To Deal With A Defiant Teenager: Stay calm and show them you’re in control.
Kids feed off your energy and learn to deal with their emotions by watching YOU. You can’t put out a fire with more fire. Yelling back is only going to make the situation worse. Instead, it would be best to show your child another way.
- Stay calm and show that you’re in control of yourself.
- Don’t react to their anger or frustration.
- Don’t try to reason with them either; 14-year-olds aren’t interested in explaining why they shouldn’t do something they want to do anyway!
Again, ask for help from a counselor to learn how to keep your cool. This is much easier said than done. You’ll need to discover your own coping techniques.
How To Deal With A Defiant Teenager: Set clear and enforce boundaries consistently.
Yes, you want your child to make their choices and let up on the “control grip,” but that doesn’t mean you let them do whatever they want. They still need rules. Rules prove security, and consistency provides predictability. Teens absolutely need these things to grow into incredible adults. Here are some critical tips for making your rules.
- Dig deep and come up with only 5 rules you consider the most important.
- Sit down with your teenager and ask them what rules they want to implement in the house to make them feel safe.
- Together, write those rules down and compromise on a short list of rules everyone can agree on.
- Discuss the consequences when any rules are broken (even if you break a rule yourself.)
- Discuss and decide on rewards for abiding by the rules.
- Stay consistent, and ensure everyone in your house is on the same page. You can not “let it go” because you’re tired or too busy. You must implement consequences and rewards with 100% consistency if you want to be taken seriously.
How To Deal With A Defiant Teenager: Give your teen space when you think they may be overreacting or angry, but don’t let their behavior go unchecked.
When you think your teen may be overreacting or angry, give them space to calm down. Your first reaction will be to yell back or take away privileges but pause instead. As mentioned earlier, you don’t want to yell or do anything that will escalate an already undesirable situation. Instead, give them space to let out their frustration. For some kids, that might look like a “time out” in their room, but for other kids, it might be letting them rant and rave while you sit there and listen, not talking and just nodding your head.
When you give your child the space to release all those big emotions and plead their case without interruption, sometimes that is enough to deescalate their mood. Now they are in a better place to listen.
Having said this, here is another skill that is much easier said than done. Sitting back and letting someone yell or rant without comments or eye rolls is difficult. Again- this will take practice.
After the rant session, do not let the child’s behavior go unchecked. It’s important to correct them when they’re wrong, even if it feels like a battle of wills at the time. This is part of teaching your teenager how to manage their emotions and has nothing to do with being “right.” Whenever possible, you don’t want to engage AT ALL when a child is emotional. They need to let those emotions out and simmer down, and then you can start the conversation in a calm voice. It’s also important for you as a parent (and other family members) to model good behavior, so your teenager can see how someone else appropriately handles conflict.
How To Deal With A Defiant Teenager: WORK ON YOUR BOND AND CONNECTION
This is the most important step of all. This is the secret sauce to better behaviors and more influence over your teenager. Your teenager won’t care what you think, say, or need if they don’t have a bond with you. Period.
Most parents make the error of thinking that the parent-child bond should be effortless and natural. Relationships take time and lots of effort to cultivate and grow. You must intentionally bond and communicate with your child over and beyond what you have been doing already. Here are some suggestions for developing a bond with your child and getting started.
- Start by talking in the car. Make any excuse to start a conversation in the car when your child doesn’t have to look directly at you and can even chat while they look out the window.
- Ask open-ended questions where they can’t answer yes or no. Download the Impactful Parent app and do one of my free 30-day challenges to get started. I will give you the questions to ask there, so you don’t have to think of them independently. Go to https://theimpactfulparent.com/app to download your free app now.
- Schedule 15 minutes in your calendar EVERYDAY to check in with your child and see how they are doing. Ask questions about their day and talk about things you can’t argue about, like their video game, favorite Youtuber, or other interest they have. You might be utterly bored with the topic, but it is what your child cares about, so ask about it.
- Show up for something they care about. Maybe it’s a sporting event? Perhaps you must force yourself to sit next to your child and watch them play their favorite video game? Either way, pick an event they care about and show up for it or do it with them.
For more information on handling teenagers who talk back, are disrespectful, or you butt-heads with, download the Impactful Parent app for more! Several videos inside the free app will get you started on ideas for turning your situation around or getting the help you need! The app is free, so you don’t have anything to lose! Go to https://theimpactfulparent.com or your app store on your phone and get it today!
But until next time, you got this, parents. I am just here to help.
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