How do you handle disrespectful tween behavior? As your children start nearing their teen years, it’s not uncommon to think they’ve lost their minds! Remember, parents, you were that kid once — talking back, slamming doors, or giving your parents the silent treatment all because of…hormones! The tween years are also when your children begin moving into adulthood and naturally start going their own way and thinking for themselves. But this doesn’t mean you should give them a pass for yelling at you or disobeying you. Here are some tips to help you through it all.
How to Handle Disrespectful Behavior from Your Tween
#1 Stand Your Ground as the Parent. As much as you want to be your child’s friend, what your child needs most is a parent’s guidance and tough love. Befriending them can set you up for more disrespectful behavior. Don’t just tell them what they want to hear, tell them what they need to hear to get them through this confusing stage. If they’re making unhealthy choices, you should explain to them why they should rethink what they’re doing.
#2 Make Your Boundaries Known and Choose Appropriate Consequences. Setting boundaries is healthy for both you and your tween. This is how you let them know how you expect to be treated. While you may ignore your tween’s sighs and eye rolls, you should have consequences in place when they are outright disrespectful. Have you communicated the consequences of disrespectful behavior? Will they lose screen time, phone privileges, or not get to hang out with friends? Choose something that will make them rethink their behavior and make these consequences known to them. Most importantly, follow through with those consequences any time they cross the line. Otherwise, you will find your leniency taken advantage of.
#3 Model What Being Respectful Means. Remember that your child is taking behavior cues from you. If you interrupt them while they’re speaking, they will think it’s okay to do the same. If you yell at them, they may do the same. As hard as it is, try to be calm, yet assertive. And if you mess up, which most of us parents do, be humble and apologize so that they have you as an example of accountability and respect.
#4 Set Aside One-on-One Time. Setting aside one-on-one time is one of the easiest things we can do to bond with our kids, but often times we get too busy to do it. Even just fifteen minutes of focused conversation can do wonders for your child. This dedicated attention shows them that you care. Your tween may be acting up because they don’t know how to handle a certain situation or need more parental support.
One-on-one time is the perfect opportunity to chip away at what might be bothering them. If your child calls for your attention but you’re in the middle of a project, tell them that you’re working at the moment, but you’ll be happy to meet with them at a specific time. And don’t forget to follow through. Even if they just want to talk to you about something funny they read in a book, listening to them does wonders.
#5 Set a Good Foundation at Home: Some parents don’t realize how overcommitted we are these days. An overcommitment to extracurricular activities can pull the family in so many different directions that we forget to block out time just for the family. As much as your tween is trying to form their own identity, they still need a strong foundation. So try setting aside one night just for family with no cell phones or guests. Instead, find some activities you can enjoy together like board games, cooking, or taking a family stroll.
Need some tips on how to keep family dinners interesting? Read Hospitality Health ER’s blog here or join our active online community by liking our Facebook page.