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How to Help a Teenager Change His Negative Attitude


My 14-year-old son has recently developed a very troublesome attitude, which is new for him. For example, he recently called a female student bad names at school and refuses to follow instructions at home. How do I address this behavior and discipline him in a positive way?



This information is included in our Guide to Parenting Teens. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

The teenage years are some of the most difficult to navigate when parenting. Keep communication open and talk with your teenager on a regular basis. We always encourage families to eat dinners together each night if possible; this time together is critical to good communication and healthy parent-child relationships. It's also a perfect time to reflect on the day, confront certain issues and discuss positive events. Your son has made some poor choices, but it's not uncommon for kids his age to test the limits and boundaries of others around them. It's also quite common for freshmen to try to fit in at school, and sometimes go to great lengths to be accepted or gain respect from upper classmen. Talk with your son about positive values like ​respecting others and how they shouldn’t be compromised just to fit in. Discuss what it means to be a follower and the strength it takes to be a leader. 

Strongly encourage your son to make a personal apology to the girl he called bad names, either in person or in a letter. This will make him take accountability for his actions and help him understand how his actions and behavior affect others. 

If he refuses to apologize, then take away his privileges until he does so. If his negative attitude and behavior continues, have him start working as a volunteer in your community. This is a good way to instill empathy, acceptance and giving back.