Strategies to deal with disrespectful tween behaviour

November 3, 2015

Parents are finding that the onset of disrespectful behaviour often associated with teens is starting at an earlier age. The strategies below can help improve the way you interact with your preadolescent child or “tween.”

Strategies to deal with disrespectful tween behaviour

You are still the parent

Don't try to be a friend. A lot of adolescent behaviour stems from your child's attempt to individuate and separate themselves from you.

While sassiness and defiance can hurt, your child is not necessarily misbehaving on purpose. Now more than ever, they need you to set limits and give them cues about the right way to handle themselves in different situations.

Pick your fights

Think about the behaviours that are most important to you, and enforce compliance. For example, you could choose to encourage your tween to be honest, get good grades and not raise their voice.

Consider letting other things go, like nagging your tween about their messy room or making them wear clean socks. Cutting them some slack on less important issues goes a long way towards keeping harmony in the house.

Appropriate consequences

Let your tween know the consequences of choosing to act disrespectfully towards you. An effective punishment for kids this age is loss of privileges, such as time with friends or access to their phones.

Whatever you decide to do, it's important that you follow through. Once you don't, they'll take advantage and be less likely to show you the behaviour you want.

Respect is a two-way street

Remember to model the kind of respectful behaviour you expect to see in your child. For example, if you find yourself raising your voice or interrupting them in a sentence, apologize.

Children this age are looking to you to learn appropriate behaviour, so show them how you expect them to act with your own actions.

Take a break

This is a little bit like a time out, but a more grown-up version. If a discussion becomes charged between the two of you, encourage your child to take a break by going to their room to listen to music.

In this way, they can learn a helpful strategy for dealing with negative emotions, and it gives you both a chance to clear your heads before any more hurtful words are said.

The beginning of adolescence is a challenging time for both you and your child. With a lot of patience and a commitment to reciprocal respect, you and your tween will make it through just fine.

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