You’ve tried everything. You don’t know where to turn, but you are terrified about where your teen is headed with their open defiance, bad behavior and poor decision making. As a parent, you care about your child and only want the best for them—but you are at your wit’s end and you feel overwhelmed. Your teen might be screaming or completely ignoring you. They might sneak out and flat-out refuse to complete school assignments or show up for important family events. You are sure they are having sex and you are worried they might be experimenting with drugs or alcohol. How can you make it stop?
Start with You
You are probably asking “How do you deal with a defiant teenager?” As the parent of a difficult teen, you face a tough road. The only person you can really control is yourself—which makes it better to start with you. This doesn’t mean you should give up on your teen (quite the opposite), but it does mean you might benefit from some therapy or counseling to help you find the best approaches to any given situation.
You may find out that there are ways to connect and get a deeper understanding of what is going on. There might be larger dynamics in play that are causing your teen to act out.
Working on your own approach and perspective probably won’t be enough to stop your teen’s rebellious activity and defiant attitudes, but it may help you clear your mind and get a better handle on your own feelings. You are going to need support to make the right decisions for your teen and your family. Talking to a professional will help you hash through your feelings in a safe space and consider a variety of options moving forward.
Frequently Asked Questions from Parents with Difficult Teens
Not all teens face the same issues and some are much more difficult than others. Here are a lot of the questions we hear consistently from parents that are dealing with behavioral problems from their teens.
How do you discipline a defiant teenager?
This isn’t an easy road, but you are going to have to become detached from the outcome and focus on fixing the relationship. Too many parents start trying to bribe or crack down on their kids. Teens aren’t going to change with bribes and they can find ways around most discipline. The goal is to provide stability and structure, facilitated by unconditional love and acceptance.
Why is my teenager so angry?
There are so many things impacting teens. From hormonal changes to difficult peer groups or even trauma, you may not realize the underlying cause of your teen’s rage. If you are afraid of your teen, it’s more than time to see outside help. If you are trying to work through anger issues, the place to start is by uncovering the root of issue. Counseling is often important because teens rarely understand their feelings of rage completely and complicate that by trying to keep things under wraps. It’s easier to be angry than vulnerable and we usually learn that from a very young age.
How do I deal with my stubborn teenage daughter?
Chances are, you are losing your own self-control as you try to work through difficult situations with your stubborn daughter. Maybe you are afraid she will make the same mistakes as you. Maybe you can’t understand why she isn’t more like you. Sometimes you can get into a power struggle and your teen will see they can knock you off balance to widen the gap and get what they want. You are going to have to be calm and patient, no matter how difficult your teenage daughter is being or what kind of negative behavior she tries.
What should I do if my defiant teenage son won’t follow rules?
If your teen is choosing to skirt the rules and avoid responsible behavior, it might be to test your limits. Your son may have lost respect for you because you were inconsistent or even hurt him in some way. It’s possible he’s just decided you aren’t “cool.” Whatever happened, if he feels free to talk back and ignore rules, you are facing a problem. You probably notice that your teen does respect certain peers or authority figures—and these are the voices he listens to. You will have to discover what is causing the lack of respect and resolve the situation to become that influence in his life again.
Is defiant behavior in teens just a phase?
So many parents aren’t sure if teen defiance is normal or not. There is a clear line and you will know when your teen is crossing it. It is more than just a bad day or a bad attitude. Rather than write it off as a tough phase, you need to take defiant teen behavior seriously when it crosses that line. Disrespect, anger, aggression—there are a lot of ways you may experience defiance in your teen.
If you are asking these questions, then you might feel like you have no recourse. Teens are trying to become more independent and sometimes that route takes a very difficult path. It is going to take some serious work to restore the broken relationship and rebuild the trust you’ve lost with your teen. The sooner you act, the fewer bridges burned and feelings hurt.
Consider Your Options
You do have options. If you feel like your teen’s behavior is starting to be more than you know how to handle, it may be time to try more intensive approaches. Attempting discipline and lockdowns yourself may only worsen the gaps. When a professional therapist and behavioral staff get involved, your teen might start to see the bigger picture or get medical help for a defiant disorder.
There are serious consequences for defiance. Your teen may get into trouble with teachers, coaches or even the law. You may be facing treatment centers or lockdown facilities that aren’t an option if you wait too long to act. Looking at your options now will help you choose the therapeutic programs that best fit your teen’s current situation and level of needs. For defiant teens that need full time help, a residential treatment center might be the right path. You may choose to just take your teen out of the current environment and start fresh with a boarding school experience.
If you need help considering your options and finding the right help for your defiant teen, we can help. Zion Educational Systems has been helping families for over a decade by focusing on the treatment of difficult teens. Speak to a counselor today at 1-866-471-8579