Get Your Teen Magazine in your inbox! Sign Up
Logo
Get Print Edition

Defiant Teenagers: 5 Ways to Deal with Difficult Teens

5 Tips For Dealing With Teenagers

Got a rebellious teenager? Well, very few moments are more frustrating for a parent. Adolescents are often difficult because they are fighting a constant identity battle. But your difficult teenager is not a lost cause. If your teenage son or daughter is defiant and pulling away from you or the rest of the family, there is still hope. Making five simple lifestyle changes can reduce the chaos in your home and help ease the transition into adulthood for your teen.

1) Opening the Lines of Communication

The first step toward improving your teenager’s difficult behavior is to establish safe topics for open discussions. Finding common ground such as fashion, pop culture, or sports is a good way to connect. Another trick is to share your own daily experiences so that you can initiate lighthearted conversations without pressure. Once you get your teen talking, listen without judgment, stay in the moment, and avoid offering advice unless prompted. Ask questions when possible, but allow your teen to retreat if he or she feels uncomfortable.

2) Creating Structure

A structured home brings balance to a teenager’s life, and establishing consistent patterns creates a sense of peace. These suggestions may be met with resistance. Enforce family mealtimes. Have your teen complete homework and chores at the same time each day. Limit electronic device usage to a certain time frame. Involve difficult teenagers in daily physical activities. And the most challenging—but, in some ways, the most important—set and maintain a regular bedtime.

3) Establishing Boundaries

Contrary to what their attitudes suggest, young adults need to feel secure. This means you can set protective boundaries without initiating a rebellion. Teens may appreciate and resent your rules at the same time. The key is to be honest about your rules and candidly discuss risks and worst-case scenarios. Offer options for handling unsafe situations, and come up with solutions that will prevent embarrassment. Discuss check-in times, curfews, and off-limit areas upfront. It’s also useful to know your teen’s friends, so consider inviting them to dinner or on a family outing.

4) Following Through with Discipline

Parents must give their teenagers advanced notice regarding discipline. This is especially true for difficult teenagers. You cannot toss punishments around haphazardly and expect compliance without a fight. Discussing things ahead of time will teach your teenager that every negative action has an equally negative consequence. Be sure to choose your battles when it comes to enforcing guidelines. You may have to lower some expectations and focus primarily on behavior that can cause emotional or physical damage.

5) Promoting Character Development

As they mature, young adults relentlessly attempt to define themselves in the world around them. Difficult teenagers are often frustrated by this journey of self-discovery. You can make the process easier by giving your teenager space for self-expression and letting him or her try on different personas. Suggesting participation in social activities may guide your teenager toward developing a healthier moral fiber.

Some activities to recommend include:
• Playing team sports
• Getting a part-time job
• Learning a musical instrument
• Improving a talent
• Participating in volunteer work

Adolescents are wired differently, and their brains aren’t fully developed when it comes to managing emotions, controlling inhibitions, or making decisions. Yet, they have a strong need to feel valued and accepted. Once you understand the motives behind your teen’s behavior, you will have an easier time improving communication and reducing defiance. The result will be a deeper connection that will enable you to work through future difficulties together.