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My 15-year-old Son is so Disrespectful


​I am looking for help with my 15-year-old son. He is so disrespectful. He constantly has an attitude and will not follow instructions. Can you please give me some ideas on how to get through to him?


Disrespectful Son

We are happy you are reaching out for help with your son. While you did not include much detail in your message, we understand the teenage years can be a tough period in which to teach discipline, respect and communication. However, it is not impossible, but it does require consistency and time to develop and maintain these. Reflect on the following: Does your son have rules at home, and if so, how do you enforce them? How are these expectations communicated? Are there consequences or rewards when he does or does not complete them? What is your communication like with your son? Who else in the home is a source of influence or support for the family? Take some time to answer these and begin to think about small ways you can actively modify his behavior. Be honest about your intentions to switch things up. Plan a family meeting and explain you are trying a different approach and want to be open with him.  

Teens learn their social skills from modeling, which is why their friends and peers at school are so influential. Yet, at home they often shut down at the sight of a parent or respond with one-word responses. Practice open-ended questions with your son when you first see him after school. Show genuine interest in his daily life, aside than simply grades or report cards. (We understand sometimes parents can get caught up in the mix of work and home-life stress.) This will help foster communication slowly. If you are still met with adverse responses, such as eye-rolling or back-talk, practice re-dos. Instead of scolding your teenage son for the responses you did not get, show him. Role-play and model ideal responses with each other. If your son is not a fan of the re-do, get him to practice taking a deep breath or a pause before he responds rudely. If he is still struggling, sit down with him and review our yourlifeyourvoice webpage.

The Boys Town Parenting site is full of great resources, one of them being the straight-forward 5 Steps to Gaining Authority with Your Teen. This short list outlines the steps of enforcing rules around the home. As we have stated before, clearly communicate the expected behavior, perhaps at a family meeting. The rules can range from greeting each other politely (again, define and model polite) when entering the home, to eating dinner as a family without the presence of technology – you decide. Incorporate positive and negative reinforcement; If your son does well to follow the house rules, reward him with a small token such as a shirt he has been eyeing at the mall. If he fails to meet the expectations, set in place a "punishment that fits the crime," such as one hour less of XBOX or PlayStation for not taking out the trash. Remember to be reasonable, to lead by example, and do your best to "catch your son doing good." Praise him for his efforts around the house, no matter how small. As much as teens may not admit it, recognition is a huge reinforcement! Let him know you are witness to his small accomplishments and hopefully you will begin to see some changes.

Hang in there – you can teach to his behavior! If you are needing some more support, or ever needing to just talk with someone, please reach us at 1-800-448-3000. We are just a call or click away, 24/7!