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Parenting teenagers is no picnic. Trust me, I’ve been through it once, am going through it again now and have one more on his way in a few years.
Teenage behavior problems are often a manifestation of how the parent raised them, or at least it plays a big role in it.
And, I’ll be honest with you, I was one of those lenient, give-in all the time type of parent. You know, the mom whose heart breaks if their child cries or who feels guilty if they have to take the computer away for 30 minutes for a timeout.
I’ve always been one of those moms who avoids conflict at all costs. I’d pretty much give in to my children the minute they threw a fit. And you know what? I was actually only hurting myself and my child by being this type of parent.
Oh trust me, I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’m definitely not saying that teaching respectful child behavior is going to be easy. Cause, it certainly wasn’t for me.
A great thing about life is change is ALWAYS possible, even if your child is now in their teen years. Even if you have a rocky relationship with your teen right now, you can change that and start moving your relationship with them in a more positive direction.
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How to Raise a Respectful Teenager
If your children are still little, start now to build the foundation that will set them up for their teen years and ensure they are confident, respectful and well behaved.
It all starts with teaching your kids values.
Simply put, the way kids learn values is by observing the actions you’re taking and coming up with their own ideas of what you consider important in life. By emerging from childhood into their teen years with a clear view of what you really value, it helps them develop their own “value system.”
Where do we begin?
Raising Children with Manners and Respect
1. Set Clear Rules About Respect and Behavior
When you set family rules, you are clearly expressing your expectations of behavior and respect. If possible, ensure all family members are involved in the discussion of family rules. Do your best to keep the rules you set in a positive tone. For instance, instead of saying “being disrespectful won’t be tolerated”, try saying something more positive such as, “our family speaks and shows respect for one another.” See the difference?
You’re setting an expectation — not reprimanding.
If your child breaks a rule, you MUST follow up with the consequence firmly and calmly every time. (Again, this was definitely something I struggled with). You first must set up a fair consequence beforehand that everyone can agree to in advance. For instance, a consequence for breaking a certain rule could be taking your child off the computer for a couple hours.
Make sure they know this is their consequence should they break any of the family rules. Then, follow through.
And, yes, it will probably tug on your heartstrings at first when you have to discipline them, but it will only take a couple times before they get the hint that you’re not playing around. And, remember, this is how to raise a respectful teenager — it starts by being consistent and firm (in a loving way) throughout their childhood.
2. Set Healthy Boundaries for your Child
So, what happens if your child makes a poor decision? Do you shrug it off or rescue them from the consequences? Absolutely not. You’re not teaching them anything if you don’t let them learn from the choices they make. Setting rules isn’t the only way to set healthy boundaries.
It’s also about not stepping in and rescuing your child too quickly. It’s about teaching them that like you would have to deal with the consequences of a poor choice or behavior you made, so do they.
And, these consequences aren’t always going to necessarily be ones you made. Sometimes, there are natural consequences — something that happens naturally without your interference. Like for instance, if you don’t eat, you’ll be hungry or if you stand out in the rain, you’ll get wet.
Sometimes, having to deal with natural consequences is the best thing when you’re figuring out how to teach a child respect and discipline so they don’t grow into disrespectful teenagers.
I’ll talk more about natural consequences in a little bit.
3. Be Honest With your Child
Did you do something wrong or make a mistake? If so, acknowledge it and apologize. Perhaps there’s something your child wants, but you can’t afford to buy it — be honest with them. Explain the situation or have a conversation about it. This lets your children know you’re a real person and things can go wrong. But, no matter what it is, you’ll always be upfront with them.
By encouraging, open and honest communication now, you can set them up to be open and honest teenagers who aren’t afraid to talk to you.
4. Be a Good Role Model for your Child
Even if you don’t realize it or feel like it, you play a significant role in your child’s (and someday teenager’s) life. And, whether you want to believe it or not, your children watch you. What you say or what you do guides their behavior, beliefs and attitudes over the long-term.
So, if you get angry at something and throw a cup against the wall, let’s just say, you’re teaching your child how to NOT keep control of their emotions in a calm manner. If you eat junk food and don’t exercise, your teaching your child unhealthy habits.
Everything you do has some influence over your child and what they learn.
This includes what you say.
Wanna know how to teach a teenager respect? It starts by teaching your child respect. And, if you’re sitting there cussing out another person, what is this saying to your child?
Tips to Be a Good Role Model for your Child
- Always practice what you preach. Both children and teenagers know when you don’t.
- Include children in family discussions and allow them input into family rules, decisions and expectations.
- Maintain a positive attitude — think, talk and act as positive as you can, as much as you can.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and eating healthy.
- Take ownership of mistakes, apologize from them and learn from them. Teach your child to do the same.
- Be respectful and kind to others, always.
- Use problem-solving skills to cope with conflicts and challenges productively and calmly. Becoming angry and acting out teaches your child to respond the same way.
5. Learn to Listen to your Child
Whether your child wants to tell you about their latest video game their playing or about a cool video they found on YouTube, take the time to listen to them. Don’t tune them out or daydream. Don’t rush them. When you actually listen to them, you’re showing that what they have to say is important to you. It also teaches them how to listen which they’ll bring this skill with them into their teenage years.
Stories about these little video games can turn into stories about school problems, boyfriend/girlfriend issues, talks about drugs or alcohol or other things most teenagers wouldn’t open up to with their parents. By practicing and encouraging listening with an open mind, you’re setting up the foundation of good communication between you and your child when they become a teenager.
6. Praise your Child’s Effort
Be careful not to mix up genuine praising with labeling. Instead of telling your child they’re “talented” or “smart” when they get a good grade or complete a project, praise them for their effort and hard work. This is especially important if you have more than one child.
If you tell one child they’re “smart” because they got that A on their Math quiz or because they completed their Science project, your other child may feel reluctant to take on challenges of their own because they feel achievements only come from innate skills or abilities.
When a child knows it was their hard work that got them that grade, they’ll be more willing later on to work hard again for another good achievement. Likewise, the sibling will also realize they too can put in the effort to achieve things.
Disrespectful Teenagers and Teenage Behavior Problems
So, what happens if it’s too late and your child is already a disrespectful teen? What do you do if they’re behavior sucks?
Remember what I said earlier? It’s never too late to make changes. And, thank God for that, right?
Every teenager will show disrespect at some point. It’s a normal part of their development and growth. This is partly due to your teen testing out their own independence and expressing their own ideas. So, you won’t agree on everything.
Independence is a good thing and a great sign your teen is trying to be more responsible. But, they’re also learning how to handle differing opinoins and disagreement properly.
And, thanks to hormones, a teenager’s mood can quickly change.
Here’s How to Deal With a Disrespectful Teenager
- Go over the ground rules again. Make sure they’re clear on the rules about communication and behavior. Continue to keep them involved in family discussions regarding rules, just like you did when they were a child.
- Set new consequences. Obviously, the consequences they had as a child will be different now that they’re older. For instance, instead of sending them to bed an hour early when they break a rule, you may want to take their electronics away for a set amount of time (usually 24 hours to send a clear message).
- Stay calm. This is especially important when you’re dealing with a teenager. You don’t want to engage in power struggles. Don’t argue or defend yourself. Take a deep breath and remain calm, but firm.
- Take their emotional needs into consideration. Sometimes when a teenager is disrespectful it’s because their emotional needs aren’t being fulfilled. Maybe they’re just trying to get attention. Or, perhaps they don’t feel accepted. The best thing to do here is to sit down with your teen and let them know you’re there for them. You’re ready to listen to whatever they need to get off their chest — without judgment. And, you love them no matter what, even if you can’t solve their problem entirely. Sometimes, all it takes is a little empathy.
- Allow your teen to face natural consequences. Remember these? That’s right, let your teen learn from their own behaviors and mistakes. In some situations, natural consequences are the best way for teenagers to learn life lessons. So, when the time comes, and you’ll know when, take a step back and let your teenager face their own natural consequences of the choices they make.
Again, teenagers naturally rebel, have attitudes and make poor choices. But, if your teenager’s behavior affects their school work or you notice things like withdrawal from friends and family, mood swings or disinterest in normal activities, there may be something deeper going on and a professional therapist might be able to help.
Recommended Books For Raising Respectful Teenagers
Here are some books I recommend that could help you raise your children into respectable teens and what to do if you’re dealing with an out-of-control teenager.
This book helps parents learn how to teach essential skills, set limits and teach good decision making in teens. It covers a wide variety of real-life issues teenagers may go through like addiction, sex, ADD and more and provides you with the tools to help your teenagers through their maturity growth process as they find their identifty.
This is one of my favorite parenting books. It teaches parents how to back off and let their kids step up and develop the confidence to solve their own problems.
If you already have an out-of-control teenager, this book is for you. All teens talk back, disobey and break curfew. But many disrupt families and harm their own future or lives. A master therapist shows you seven steps in this book on how to change your teenager and yourself positively.
Well, hopefully, you’ll either already have respectful teenagers or you’re well on your way to raising them. But, we all need encouragement from time to time. Us moms need to stick together. If anyone has any other tips to raising respectful teenagers, let us know below in the comments. Also, please do share if this post has helped you. 😉
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