Few things are as frustrating or embarrassing as when your teenage son behaves or speaks to you in a manner that exudes disrespect. As a parent you know that you raised him better than this, which leaves you wondering if you missed something along the way or whether your son is headed down a road that causes you worry. Chances are your son is just being a typical teenager, which means he’s seeing how far he can push your buttons and whether he can cross the line with his behavior. To ensure that this disrespect stops before it gets any worse, you have to adequately deal with the situation when it happens.
Be prepared for some disrespect throughout your son’s teenage years, advises Janet Lehman, who holds a masters in social work, for Empowering Parents. The key is knowing what’s normal and what isn’t. A little disrespect, such as eye rolling and muttering, is to be expected. When you are prepared for this type of disrespect it helps you handle it when it occurs. For example, if you are prepared for eye rolling, you can preplan a disciplinary action, such as making him put a quarter or a dollar in the eye-roll jar. Each time your son rolls his eyes, he has to place this money in a jar and donate it to the charity of his choice at the end of the year. No teen wants to see his hard-earned job money or allowance money disappear.
Rely on short-term consequences, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. Teens learn more from consequences that are short-lived than they do longer consequences. For example, if your teen talks to you disrespectfully and you decide that the punishment for him is to lose his driving privileges, take this ability away from him for the weekend. If you take it away any longer, his behavior might further deteriorate as he feels he has nothing left to lose anyway.
Stay away from power struggles, advises Lehman. When your teen is disrespectful and you engage him on the spot, it doesn’t handle the situation. Take a few minutes to calm down, think about what you want to say and determine your course of action. If your son is unable to talk to you in a mature manner, send him to his room until he is able to calm down. You don’t have to discipline him for his disrespectful behavior right this second; you can discipline him in an hour when everyone is calm and your discussion and impending consequence is one that you thought out using logic. This also helps you prevent further fighting.
Stop threatening your son with consequences you are not going to carry out, advises the AAP. For example, if in the heat of the moment you tell him that his disrespectful behavior has earned him a month of no television, you must be prepared to carry that out. Otherwise, he is less likely to learn from his mistakes and more likely to continue with his disrespectful behavior, as there were no consequences for it.