Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

Search This Site

Encouraging Responsible Behavior in Defiant Teens

Adolescence can be a confusing time of change for teenagers and parents alike. But while these years can be difficult, there's plenty you can do to nurture your adolescent and encourage responsible behavior. Consider these parenting tips for defiant adolescents:

1. Minimize pressure— Don't pressure your adolescent to be like you were or wish you had been at his or her age. Give your adolescent some leeway when it comes to clothing and hairstyles. It's natural for adolescents to rebel and express themselves in ways that differ from their moms and dads. If your adolescent shows an interest in body art (e.g., tattoos and piercings), make sure he or she understands the health risks (e.g., skin infections, allergic reactions, hepatitis B and C, etc.). Also talk about potential permanence or scarring. As you allow your adolescent some degree of self-expression, remember that you can still maintain high expectations for your adolescent and the kind of person he or she will become.

2. Prioritize rules— While it's important to consistently enforce your rules, you can occasionally make exceptions when it comes to matters such as homework habits, TV watching and bedtime. Prioritizing rules will give you and your adolescent a chance to practice negotiating and compromising. Before negotiating with your adolescent, however, consider how far you're willing to bend. Don't negotiate when it comes to restrictions imposed for your adolescent's safety (e.g., substance abuse, sexual activity, reckless driving, etc.). Make sure your adolescent knows early on that you won't tolerate tobacco, alcohol or other drug use.

3. Set a positive example— Remember, adolescents learn how to behave by watching their moms and dads. Your actions generally speak louder than your words. Set a positive example and your adolescent will likely follow your lead.

4. Show your love— One of the most important parenting tips for adolescents involves positive attention. Spend time with your adolescent to remind him or her that you care. Listen to your adolescent when he or she talks, and respect your adolescent's feelings. Also, keep in mind that only reprimanding your adolescent and never giving him or her any justified praise can prove demoralizing. For every time you discipline your adolescent, aim to compliment him or her twice. If your adolescent doesn't seem interested in bonding, keep trying. Regularly eating meals together may be a good way to stay connected to your adolescent. Better yet, invite your adolescent to prepare the meal with you. You also might encourage your adolescent to talk to other supportive grown-ups (e.g., an uncle or older cousin) for guidance.

5. Encourage cyber safety— Get to know the technology your adolescent is using and the Websites he or she is visiting. If possible, keep the computer in a common area in your house. Remind your adolescent to practice these basic safety rules: 
  • Don't get together with someone you meet online.
  • Don't send anything in a message you wouldn't say face to face.
  • Don't share personal information online.
  • Don't text while driving.
  • Talk to a parent or trusted adult if an interaction or message makes you uncomfortable.

6. Set limits— To encourage your adolescent to behave well, identify what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behavior at home, at school and elsewhere. As you establish appropriate rules, explain to your adolescent the behavior you expect as well as the consequences for complying and disobeying. Consider these parenting tips for adolescents when setting limits:
  • Put rules in writing. Use this technique to counter a selective memory.
  • Be specific. Rather than telling your adolescent not to stay out late, set a specific curfew.
  • Be reasonable. Avoid setting rules your adolescent can't possibly follow. A chronically messy adolescent may not be able to maintain a spotless bedroom overnight. 
  • Be prepared to explain your decision. Your adolescent may be more likely to comply with a rule when he or she understands its purpose. 
  • Be flexible. As your adolescent demonstrates more responsibility, grant him or her more freedom. If your adolescent shows poor judgment, impose more restrictions. 
  • Be concise. Keep your rules short and to the point.
  • Avoid ultimatums. Your adolescent may view an ultimatum as condescending and interpret it as a challenge.

Not sure if you're setting reasonable limits? Talk to your adolescent, other moms and dads and your adolescent's doctor. Whenever possible, give your adolescent a say in establishing the rules he or she is expected to follow.

7. Enforce consequences— Enforcing consequences can be tough, but your adolescent needs you to be his or her parent, not a pal. Being too lenient may send the message that you don't take your adolescent's behavior seriously, while being too harsh can cause resentment. Consider these methods:
  • Scolding and disapproval. Make sure you reprimand your adolescent's behavior, not your adolescent. Avoid using a sarcastic, demeaning or disrespectful tone. Also, avoid reprimanding your adolescent in front of his or her friends.
  • Imposing additional restrictions. Take away a privilege or possession that's meaningful to your adolescent (e.g., computer time or a cell phone).
  • Imposing additional responsibilities. Assign your adolescent additional household tasks.
  • Asking your adolescent to suggest a consequence. Your adolescent may have an easier time accepting a consequence if he or she has played a role in deciding it.
  • Active ignoring. Tell your adolescent that you'll talk to him or her when the whining, sulking or yelling stops. Ignore your adolescent in the meantime.

Whatever disciplinary tactic you choose, relate the consequences to the broken rule and deliver them immediately. Limit punishments to a few hours or days to make them most effective. In addition, avoid punishing your adolescent when you're angry. Likewise, don't impose penalties you're not prepared to carry out. Also, punish only the guilty party – not other family members. And of course, never use physical harm to discipline your adolescent.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

No comments:

Join Our Facebook Support Group

Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Online Parenting Coach - Syndicated Content