What Do You Say to Hard Headed Teenagers?

by Tiffany Raiford

    Your teen is at an age when he is no longer a child but not yet an adult, which means he likely views himself as much smarter, much more responsible and much more independent than he actually is. This over-inflated opinion he has of himself may cause one or two moments in which his hard-headed behavior leaves you baffled. While you cannot change the fact that he’s working on becoming an adult, you can learn what to say to your hard-headed teen in order to get through to him.

    Tell Your Teen You Love Her

    It may sound a bit cliché, but it’s an important thing to tell your teen you love her, advises the Mayo Clinic. No matter how defiant or smart-mouthed your teen can be from time to time, she needs to know that you love her anyway. When she refuses to accept the fact that you will not allow her to attend a concert with her friends four hours from home, tell her that you love her too much to allow her to attend a concert so far away from home so late at night and that’s your final answer. It may not seem like it at the time, but knowing you made your decision based out of love and not because you just don’t want her to have fun is a telling point for your teen.

    Say Something Funny

    According to Dr. Joseph Strand, father, child psychiatrist and medical director of the Clean and Sober Teens Living Empowered intervention unit at the High Point Treatment Center in Massachusetts, sometimes humor is the best thing to use when talking to your hard-headed teen. Anger is an easy emotion to portray when your teen is doing something that you don’t approve of, but it’s not always the most effective. If your teen refuses to do his homework because he’d rather play some new-fangled video game with his friends, don’t get angry. Instead, make a joke by saying something like, “Well, son, I think it’s great you like high school so much that you want to stay there a few extra years!” He won’t be tempted to get embarrassed or angry in return, but the point is still there.

    Ask for Suggestions

    When your teen sees your household rules as fair and reasonable, he is much more likely to abide by them, according to KidsHealth. This eliminates the need for your hard-headed teen to try and oppose you on every single rule you enforce. One way to ensure your teen views the rules as fair -- and to eliminate arguments and debates -- is to ask him for suggestions when making the rules. The rules you had for your teen when he was 14 may not be appropriate for him now that he’s 17, which means you should sit him down to discuss what you expect and what he thinks is fair, then compromise on the rules. Giving him a sense of responsibility for his own actions and making rules that he views as fair will make him less likely to break those rules in defiance.

    What Not to Say to Your Hard-Headed Teen

    There’s a lot you can say to your teen, but one thing you should not do is impose a penalty or punishment you cannot reasonably carry out, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. If she’s two hours late coming home one night, you’re going to be angry, worried and relieved when she finally waltzes through the door. However, before you lose your cool and tell her that she’s losing her driving privileges for the next two weeks, think about whether that is an enforceable penalty. If she’s the one who drives your younger children to and from school or has an afterschool job she has to go to and no other way to get there, you can’t realistically take away her driving privileges without upsetting the entire family dynamic. Instead, impose penalties that just affect her, such as taking away her Internet privileges for a week or only allowing her to drive when she’s doing you a favor.

    About the Author

    Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.

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