Parenting the Defiant Teen

Parenting a defiant teen can be a daunting, hair-pulling experience! It’s tough to be a cool, compassionate parent when your teen is lashing out, lying, taking drugs, or otherwise engaging in risky behavior. Balancing your teen’s need to grow into independence while providing them clear guidance can seem like an impossible task for a lot of parents.

Which is why I love doing what I do! I help parents discover how they can establish boundaries, gain respect, and turn around problem behaviors.

While raising my three teenagers, I found it incredibly helpful to have intentions. Intention carries a powerful energy that propels you toward what you want. Don’t you love that? The most powerful intention I held while raising my teens was to have a good relationship with them. This was my intention whether we were getting along at any given moment or not. Having a good relationship with my teens was my intention even when I was just trying to get through my day with them.

This is why it’s important to remember your intention.

My exercise for you to try: Resist the temptation to ask your teen what they did at school

Kids are tired after school and rarely in the mood to chat if they’re teens. Have you noticed this? Has your teen ever walked in the door and flopped in a chair or onto the couch and you wonder if they’re awake? Parents are often eagerly anticipating -knowing how their teen’s day went and being filled in on the details. That scenario can go haywire and all you may get is a firm “nothing” when you try and engage with them when they’re exhausted. Many parents go through this- too many times to count.

Once your teen seems a little more willing to talk, ask them instead if they enjoyed their day; it’s more neutral. Gage their receptiveness before you start asking questions. This will serve you.

Also, talk to your teen about subjects that are fun for them. You know what their interests are. It may not be school. Once the conversation starts and you want it to continue, bring in statements such as “tell me more about that.” You can also ask them questions such as “how did that impact you?” or “how did that make you feel?” The more you engage in what’s important to your teen, the more your teen will engage with you.

This may be a process over time.

Engaging with your teen is really important. But sometimes, the most valued engagement is simply eye contact and your smile.

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