Sometimes it can seem like your teen's mission in life is to defy everything you do and say. When you ask him a question, he has a retort ready to go; when you want to talk, he just wants to be left alone. While defiance can seem like part of the moody teen repertoire of emotion, it's not always harmless and is definitely unwelcome. Understand why your teen tries to oppose you and how to get him to be more agreeable to help smooth out some of the roughness of the teen years.
Teens who are blatantly defiant toward adults can become so oppositional that it's impossible to communicate. If your teen is constantly saying "No!" when you ask her to do anything, if she responds to reasonable requests with anger, and if she seems to willfully and purposefully break the rules and boundaries you've set for her, your teen is being blatantly defiant. She no longer cares about the opinions of the adults in her life, thinking she instead knows best for her health and happiness. As a parent, you may find yourself dealing with so many fights and verbal wars that you finally feel worn down and ready to give into your teen's demands.
Your teen is defiant because he wants to be independent, according to the book "From Defiance to Cooperation: Real Solutions for Transforming the Angry, Defiant, Discouraged Child" by John F. Taylor, Ph.D. He is making the transition from childhood to adulthood, which can make him power-hungry. When presented with boundaries, he first begins testing them before ignoring them completely, which can leave you at odds with each other. What's more, the prefrontal cortex -- the part of the brain responsible for decision-making -- isn't completely developed until your child's 20s, which means he doesn't always understand the consequences of his actions or make logical, reasonable arguments and choices, warns professional counselor Ugo Uche, licensed professional counselor, for Psychology Today. Combined, both of these factors make for an angry, defiant and unpleasant teen.
How to Deal
Loosening the reins and allowing your teen to take part in her own rules and boundaries can definitely help her defiant attitude. If you allow your teen to have a say in her daily rules, she may be more likely to follow them herself. If she already begins to have a defiant attitude toward you, refuse to take part in the conversation until she can speak respectfully. This sends the lifelong message that she can't get what she wants through whining or wearing someone down. Also, know that you should choose your battles wisely. A defiant teen is ready to go to war anytime you begin the first strike; make sure that the battle is worth it before you make a comment or create a rule. It's also vital that you stay consistent with both rules and consequences. Defiant teens search for the chink in an adult's armor and zero in, using that weakness to their advantage. Instead, set rules and precedences in your home so your teen knows what to expect in exchange for blatantly defying your rules.
Sometimes, a defiant teen is more than just looking for power -- instead, it's a mental health issue known as oppositional defiance disorder (ODD). Teens with ODD disrupt their lives with their defiant attitudes, struggling in school and making unwise choices. The American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry notes that teens with ODD may have been difficult babies and children, thanks to years of being fussy, moody and angry. If you believe that your teen has ODD, see your doctor. She can refer you to a qualified mental health professional to help offer coping tactics and even prescription therapy to help your teen turn down the defiance and become a more willing and respectful part of society.
- From Defiance to Cooperation: Real Solutions for Transforming the Angry, Defiant, Discouraged Child; John F. Taylor, Ph.D.;
- Psychology Today: How to Respond to Your Defiant Teen
- American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry: Your Adolescent -- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
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