Defiance and Back Talk
A defiant teenager might portray out of control or disrespectful behavior towards parents. Cursing, using drugs and alcohol, and being difficult are all examples of defiant behavior. Dealing with these circumstances can be challenging or frustrating, but it is important to remember that this is still your child. Experts in the field share tips and advice for how to deal with an unruly teenager.
Why Teenagers Rebel
Adolescence marks a key turning point in the life of a young adult. Before figuring out solutions to the issues at hand, it is important to consider what else might be going on with your teenager that is causing these specific actions. Problems at home or destructive social situations can directly impact a teenager’s behavior. Substance abuse and addiction problems can also influence attitude.
“While it is true that in every culture the adolescent period is marked by teenagers pushing away from adults, especially the ones who raised them,” Daniel J. Siegel, MD and award wining author, remarks about the adolescent stage. ... Read more
Jonathan Nadlman, MFT, a psychotherapist identifies the need for adventure and independence in a teenager’s life. “Our job is to give them that adventure. Sometimes that adventure is about making a decision around their bedtime or earning an allowance, or getting to go to a movie that we don’t sit behind them in with their three friends. They have to have some story. They have to be able to sit around with their buddies or their girlfriends and tell a story about how they are being seen differently by their parents. Thats what they are after,” he comments about one of the origins of defiance in a teen’s life.
Furthermore, an untreated or underlying mental illness can emphasize defiant traits in teenagers. Learn more about other topics that could have an effect on a teenager’s life.
Experts Daniel J. Siegel, MD, Kim DeMarchi, MEd, CPE, and Shefali Tsabary, PhD have outstanding tips on what parents can do to combat teen defiance.
Neuropsychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel, MD touched on one approach for handling a defiant teenager. “Accepting the natural, biological push for a move away from the parents who raised you is really necessary for us as adults to do to give space for the adolescents to grow in a healthy way,” he remarks.
Kim DeMarchi, MEd, CPE, a parent educator, stresses the importance of giving your teenager some space and picking which battles are most valuable. “Ask yourself. Am I willing to pick that as my battle? Sometimes it is not worth it. You just need to let go. If your child is beginning to push you every single time to let go, then you know you are being manipulated, but most of the time that is not the case.”
Shefali Tsabary, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of the award-winning book, The Conscious Parent, shares another valuable piece of advice for dealing with teens who are acting out. “Resist the desire to create control, because it is that desire which will perpetuate the problem. The first thing that we need to do when we are being conscious parents and our teenager is really outlandish and breaking all rules is to back away from the problem, step away, and in fact do what is counter-intuitive, which is to create space, to ease into a sense of abundance…The capacity that we have as conscious parents, to hold them within a space of trust, acceptance, nurturance and abundance, we have to come into an abundance based model, which says I trust you, I know that I’ve parented you well…”
While this behavior can be challenging, there are many constructive, alternative ways to approach it. Parents can encourage their teens to get involved in sports or find hobbies that they are passionate about. Setting goals and exploring new ventures can also be helpful. Quality family time is another strategy that parents can employ. There is nothing wrong with asking for professional help when a situation gets out of hand. Therapy provides a great platform for open communication and solving problems.