It’s no doubt that parenting comes with its challenges. And if you’re the parent of a teen, you may feel concerned, hurt, or surprised by some of their behaviors at times. While they push against the system in their search for independence, you're at your wit's end.  

The good news is, your teen goes through phases, and their behavior typically changes as they grow older. In the meantime, here 8 tips for dealing with a difficult teen:


  1. Keep your cool. If you feel like your teens have an "attitude" without cause, the first thing you need to do is stop and take a deep breath. The less reactive you are, the better you can use your judgment in handling the situation. In some cases, you may need to check your understanding. Sometimes teens can be disrespectful without the intention of being rude. 

  2. Be a role model. One of the most important things you can do is model the kind of behavior you want to see. Your teens are constantly observing you as a role model. So if you swear often but expect them not to, they'll have trouble understanding why it's not okay for them to do. On the other hand, if you want your teen to act respectfully towards you, you'll need to adopt the same attitude towards them. 

  3. Reframe your teen’s situation. Therapists often use the reframing technique as a way to interpret or view a problem differently. By shifting your perspective, you'll gain more insight into their actions, which is usually followed by acting or thinking about things differently. And here's the excellent news—when a parent responds in different ways, there is no choice for the teen but to act differently, too.

  4. Establish clear boundaries. It's no doubt that teens will test you at some point. And in a family where children have had it their way most of the time, or where there are few firm or inconsistent rules, disrespect in teens is almost inevitable. Inconsistency occurs when different rules are arbitrarily applied on different days without reason or when one parent is laxer while the other is strict. It's essential to set clear directions and boundaries-which requires some practice to master. If possible, discuss them with your teen beforehand.

  5. Avoid unnecessary arguments. Instead of engaging in a power struggle, stay calm and remember to focus on their behavior. Although it's not always easy, remember that you're better able to control your emotions than them as an adult. Anger can lead to saying things you regret later on and can unnecessarily escalate the situation. As an adult, remember that you have more control over your emotions. Put this advantage to good use!

  6. Listen. If and when a teen comes to you, recognize their efforts in trusting you. Pay attention and listen without commenting. Allow them to feel at ease disclosing with you. Before offering any feedback or opinion, ask them if they want to hear it. If not, that’s okay. Knowing that you’re there and willing to hear them out can mean more than the best advice.

  7. Don’t make it personal. In addition to keeping your cool, keep your focus on their behavior rather than who they are as a person. Focusing on their behavior makes it easier for everyone involved to stay calm and avoid getting overly emotional. 

  8. Take care of yourself. If you're constantly stressed or overwhelmed, your relationship with your teen will be evidence of that.  Remember that you're doing the best you can and devote some time to ensure you're staying healthy emotionally and physically.


Getting additional support 

If you feel that you could benefit from receiving additional support, consider working with a licensed mental health professional. Whether you decide to go alone or with your teen, working with a therapist can help you navigate the choppy waters of adolescence.