6 Tips for Talking to a Defiant Teen

We’ve all experienced that defiant adolescent phase where we don’t want to listen to anyone or anything. As a parent, it can be hard to connect with your teen when they’re refusing to listen to you and they argue everything that you say. Here are a few ways you can make conversations with your teen a little easier and more likely to produce a positive response.

Allow Your Teen to Say What They Feel

Make sure you’re allowing your teen to express what they are feeling—as long as it’s done respectfully. Being able to express emotions properly is an important life skill that your teen should learn, and to do that, your teen needs to feel listened to and validated.

If you don’t agree with your teen, don’t refuse them right away. Instead, start by reiterating what they said and how they feel. Try a statement like “I hear what you are saying about [ISSUE] and I understand that you feel strongly about it. I can imagine that you are feeling hurt/sad/upset however I will have to say no as I do not feel that this is the right decision.” Your teen may react better to this conversation since you respected them by listening to and considering what they had to say before reaching a conclusion.

Make Time for Friendly Conversation

Walk in woods with teen

Image Credit: Ben Blennerhassett

Your teen needs to know that you care about the little things in life, such as their hobbies, opinions and ideas, as much as the big things, such as school and family life. Make sure you and your son or daughter spend some time together catching up over ice cream or going for a walk. Enjoy spending time together without getting into subjects that may be touchy, such as rules or grades.

Don’t Get Engaged in a Power Struggle

If your teen start to get hostile or angry during a conversation, make sure you don’t engage in their power struggle. If you get engaged, you’re letting your teen take control and set the course of the argument. Instead, end the conversation without raising your voice or giving in to your teen’s demands.

Regularly Praise Your Teen

Proud happy girl

Image Credit: Ezra Jeffrey

Your teen may not act like it, but your words are very important to them. Praise and encourage your teen when you notice them demonstrating good qualities such as generosity or respect, or when they’re working hard at their school work, hobby or sport. This will help boost your teen’s self-esteem and will also open up the lines of conversation.

Be an Active Listener

If your teen is talking to you, demonstrate to them that you’re listening actively. Put down what you’re doing, make eye contact and don’t interrupt. Consider what they are saying, and ask related questions. Your teen is much more likely to be honest and want to hear what you have to say if they feel that they are being listened to.

Speak to Your Teen When You’re Both Calm

If you and your teen have a disagreement or argument, be sure you wait until you have both calmed down to discuss the problem and its solution. Trying to solve a problem when you and your teen are both agitated and frustrated will cause more harm than good.

If your teen is defiant, try the above tips to see if they make a difference in how your teen responds. Remember that your teen is more likely to show you respect if you show that you respect them as well.

Feature Image: Ravi Roshan