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Lessons for Difficult Teenagers

by Erica Loop, studioD

If you thought you left the difficult years of temper tantrums, oppositional attitudes and screaming "No's" behind you, think again. Teens are often just as difficult as a terrible 2-year-old or precocious preschooler. From general moodiness to more serious issues, you can help your adolescent through this tumultuous time with a few strategic lessons.


According to parenting experts at KidsHealth, creating reasonable goals is a valuable way to help your child achieve success. Instead of teaching your adolescent that whatever she says goes, give her a lesson in striving to reach achievements. Think about what is reasonable to expect in various areas of your child's life, including getting a certain GPA at school, doing chores or even working at a part-time job. Have a discussion with your teen clearly explaining your expectations for her actions and behaviors, ensuring that you add in a lesson on the consequences for her not meeting her responsibilities. Ask for her ideas about her goals and what she realistically thinks about your expectations.

Safety Lessons

Teaching teens safety is a key issue when it comes to raising your adolescent, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics on its Healthy Children website. Although your teen might consider herself an adult, acting in an all too grown-up way can quickly turn your child from conscientious to difficult. Teach your teen lessons on safety that include information on Internet predators, fighting, substance abuse and dating violence.

Natural Consequences

Your teen's growing sense of autonomy means that on occasion your child won't obey you at all. A difficult teen who demonstrates enough obstinateness to regularly resist your rules might need to learn the lesson that only natural consequences can teach. According to the child development experts at Kids Health, natural consequences provide a means to teach kids a lesson by allowing them to experience the results of their misbehaviors or ill-chosen actions. For example, if your teen refuses to study for her biology test because she thinks that going out with friends is more fun, letting her suffer the consequence of a poor grade is a lesson that she can teach herself.


While your teen needs discipline, some forms of punishment are too harsh. Spanking, hitting and verbal aggression are all forms of abuse and are never acceptable teaching tools for any parent to use. Discipline lessons that can work well for a difficult teen include taking privileges away and grounding. For example, if your teenager breaks her curfew and keeps the car out late, take away her driving privileges for a week or two.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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