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How to Handle Rude and Defiant Teens

by Tiffany Raiford

The teenage years are infamous for defiant and rude behavior. As kids grow older and begin to mature, they long to become independent. Rudeness and defiance are a teen's ways of testing her parents' patience and finding out how much she can get away with. For parents, the trick is to handle that fresh and infuriating behavior in a way that makes it clear you will not tolerate it.

Set aside time to talk with your teen about his behavior. Calmly explain that his recent actions have been unusually rude and defiant, and you want to take the opportunity to discuss the rules with him and clarify any misconceptions he has about your expectations. You can also use this as an opportunity to reevaluate some of your household rules. As your teen is becoming more independent and more responsible, you might need to make some adjustments to the rules so that he views them as fair and reasonable. That will make it easier for him to behave appropriately, without sullen and disrespectful commentary.

Refrain from yelling or hitting your teen when she is rude or defiant. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your teen will learn nothing from this form of punishment other than to fear you and to think that yelling and physical violence are appropriate outlets for her frustration and anger. Not only does physical punishment and yelling promote fear, which is not the reason you want your teens to behave, it also becomes ineffective should you use it too often as a method of punishment. KidsHealth.org points out that, in addition to being physically harmful, spanking may be perceived as attention by a teen whose behavior is all about attention-seeking. In that case, it will only inspire more rudeness and defiance.

Remove privileges from your teen’s life as a punishment for rude and defiant behavior. The Children’s Trust Fund of Massachusetts -- a program that seeks to prevent child abuse by providing parental education programs and family support activities facilitated by trained medical professionals and counselors -- advises that removing things from your teen’s life that he enjoys is more likely to help him control his behavior than other forms of punishment. For example, when he is rude or defiant to you, you can take away his driving privileges for a week, turn off his cell phone for a week, or tell him he cannot use the Internet or see his friends for the rest of the weekend. However, be careful not to impose punishments that end up inconveniencing the entire family, such as taking away driving privileges from your teen when he's the one who picks up his younger siblings from school and practice.

Enforce a payback consequence when your teen is rude or defiant, the Children’s Trust Fund of Massachusetts suggests. For example, if she decides she is going to be defiant and not walk the dog for her grandfather while he’s on vacation, make her pay restitution for her defiance. You could make her write an apology letter to her grandpa and then make it up to him by walking the dog every morning and evening for a week. For this type of punishment, the restitution should fit the crime.

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