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Tips For Dealing With Your Teen's Attitude

6 Ways to Handle Your Teen's Attitude


Charity P.'s daughter is developing a "smart mouth" and the attitude to go with it. As the Circle of Moms member describes it, "She is very disrespectful, especially in public and in front of company." Unchecked, the problem is just getting worse and worse. "What do I do?" she laments.

Moms of yore simply washed their teens' mouths out with a bar of soap. But these days, parents are looking for more relaxed and effective ways to stop this disrespectful behavior. Given these higher expectations, how do you get your teen to stop the snide and rude back talk? Here are six smart suggestions from Circle of Moms members who've wrestled with this issue.

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1. Remain Calm

Even when your teen is raising her voice, it's imperative that you stay cool, say several Circle of Moms members. Julie A. recommends calmly suggesting your daughter stop immediately, explaining, "Make the time to sit with them alone and just listen and empathize. It's not a time for advice or lectures, unless they ask. Starbucks is a great opportunity for them to feel valued and listened to . . . but alone in a bedroom, or wherever, works too."

Stephanie J. is another mom who stresses the importance of staying calm. If it's a struggle, she suggests that you "sit and write the things down that really get you down. Then decide what [about your teen's choices] you can live with, and what needs to change."

2. Provide Tough Love

Your job as mom is not to be your teen's best friend, advises Circle of Moms member Trish. "It's hard to maintain the balance between parent and friend, because I want him to talk to us, but I still want to maintain authority." She reminds her 15-year-old son that she is his mom and that there are rules for how he is to communicate. "He will not leave the house, or do anything if he continues to talk in 'that' tone of voice."

Moms agree that while they try to validate and respect their teens' feelings, they won't tolerate rude and nasty language. "Tell them if they want to talk to you in an appropriate tone, you will listen," says Terri H. "Your daughter will learn from your strength. Tough love with a lot of understanding goes a long way."

3. Enforce Consequences

Many Circle of Moms members recommend walking away and shutting down your part of the conversation until the attitude stops. Lisa M. also suggests creating consequences for the back talk. "I tell my daughter that I will not be speaking to her until she stops," she shares. "I have a 15-year-old daughter and she has moments where she thinks she's the adult and knows everything, or my favorite when she rolls her eyes at me like I am the stupidest person that she has ever encountered in her life." If her daughter continues to be rude, she takes away privileges: "including her computer, iPod, sleepovers, dances or whatever she will miss the most."

Cheryl P. is another mom who says consequences work with teens. "When she is fresh with the mouth and behavior, I start taking things away. I tell her 'I only have to provide you with food, clothes and a roof over your head.' Nothing else."

4. Keep Your Perspective

"Smart mouths" aren't strictly a teenage phenomenon. Many Circle of Moms members say they remember the first time their 2-year-old spouted "No!" But though rebellious behavior is somewhat developmentally appropriate, moms need to reinforce that it's the tone and delivery they are concerned with and will not tolerate, says Elizabeth M. "Honestly you have to pick and choose your battles," she says. "Every teenager (and even more so of girls) goes through the attitude. I'm sure if you think back you will remember having the attitude. Eventually the attitude gets better, it just takes time."

5. Don't Cave In

It's easy to cave in when teens are coming on strong, but Circle of Moms members advise moms stick to their guns. Stay strong and don't give in, advises Suzy S. "A teen who talks rudely to a parent once or twice and gets away with it will continue the behavior, and it will progressively get worse," she says. "My daughter is 13, will be 14 this November and believe me you are not alone. You do have to make sure that she knows that while you acknowledge she is growing up, you are still the parent and you are making the rules. Just keep trying with her, and hopefully she will come round in time."

6. Remind Them You Love Them

It takes a lot of patience, but moms need to remember that they are disciplining their teens because they love them. "There is a saying my mother uses, it goes like this: 'when they are good hug them, when they are bad, hug them harder,'" says Jackie M.

Teresa H. agrees: "Tell her how proud she makes you feel when she has done something good. If she answers back with attitude, don't say a word. Quite soon as you continue to change your own attitude towards dealing with things she will notice. I assure you, it gets better."

How do you deal with your teen's back talk?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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AericaKarriem AericaKarriem 5 years
Teens should feel that their parents are "crazy" or "they don't play" is a better way of sayng it. Kids need to learn respect and the only way for them to learn respect is if they know there is a consequence for their behavior. In my opinion teens will have to be embarrassed in front of their friends (peers) a coupl of times to see how it feels. "Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you." They will then learn not to embarrass and disrespect you.
CoMMember13631170267164 CoMMember13631170267164 5 years
I have a very intelligent autistic 13 year old son, he swares and talks back to me all the time, he is also violent and is on his last strike with the police for assaulting me, if he assaults me again he will be arrested and charged and go to court and then to kiddi prison., he goes to main stream school which has a special needs department that he can use if he needs to, I am trying to get his autism re-assessed as he has got worse over the past year or so, he gets very angry and emotional at the slightest thing and I just don't know what to do with him half the time, he has had all his electrical stuff taken from him, all his favourite things have been taken away too, he wont do his chores without an arguement, he is not very tidy or clean, I have absolutely no help or support with him and its very frustrating especially when he kicks off in public because he cant get what he wants.... I also have a six month old son who i am worried will copy my 13 year old, he already says the odd words like mum, dad, oh yeah, all gone, NO, hiya and has already got a horrible temper, my 13 year old winds him up and leaves me to pick up the pieces which is very difficult if he is having a temper tantrum..... what do I do?
HollyVick HollyVick 5 years
I'm sooo glad I found this article. My oldest daughter of the three is 11, but she thinks she's 18...no kidding. She has A.D.H.D and major anger/depression/anxiety issues. I know, it sounds terrible. She was raised by my ex husband who my two other girls were created by, I guess I'll say. She was 1 when they met. THAT is her dad. However, she found out about her bio dad when she was like 8-9. He hadn't wanted to be in her life and then changed his mind at a later date. He had seen her at 3, but she doesn't remember that. He came to see her at 8-9, then at 11, last summer, she went to visit him and his family in Canada. He hasn't called since. So, here's a child who already HAS many issues...she has gone through the seperation of her dad (who raised her, my ex) and 3 different reconciliations when we "Tried Again"..only to get let down again. I often wonder if she has more than JUST A.D.H.D. ...if there's a mood disorder or even slight autism. She has some very strange behaviors, one is waving her arms, she feels calmed by twirling, her "tummy" hurts when she hears loud music...just some signs. My family fights me tooth and nail on this, but I DO work with special needs children, and sometimes it's not that obvious what a child's issues are. Here's the thing...I can't say anything to this child...or she yells, throws things, she has hit and pushed her sisters...even when on the stairs one day. She locks herself in the bathroom, and it makes me so angry that I can't talk to her. Now, I just let her go in there and cool down...seems to work. She is always right too. Being calm is a good plan, which I try, but it is hard in the heat of a moment when the child YOU bared is screaming at you or hurting your other children...Also, what another mom said about...as long as they have what they NEED, they don't need Ipods and all that. My daughter keeps begging for a cell, I told her, 1st of all, I can't afford it, and second of all, she doesn't deserve it with her behavior. I prob. shouldn't say it that way, but it's the truth, and I tend to be very honest. I feel bad, because I was raised in a house with yelling and cursing, though I am a Christian. I am trying to raise my girls that way, but I do sometimes still yell or say a curse word, because that is somewhat ingrained. I'm much better than I use to be, but my girls see how my mom and me speak to eachother, and they catch on. There are a lot of hurts between my mom and i, but that is another story. I don't want my kids to feel about me..how I've felt about my mom. I know she tried to do her best, but she started having us at 16. Nobody is ready to be a parent at 16, especially not a productive one. Any suggestions? I believe we may go to the church counselor.
cindymatsumori cindymatsumori 5 years
Everybody has there moments at times but if it becomes a habit something has to be done . What worked for me was to not give them one ounce more than what the law says I have to provide . The law doesn't say they have to have iPods,phones, designer clothes, or even there own room. Act before it becomes a habit cause we all know bad habits are hard to break.
ShawnaCarter ShawnaCarter 5 years
As great of a suggestion as this is, when in the heat of the moment, it is very difficult to "stay calm"! My teen knows exactly what buttons to push to bait me. It's a tough road with teenagers and like my mother says, we just have to try to survive it. It's not forever, it's just for right now.
NoelLee98487 NoelLee98487 5 years
My husband is a great example with our boys. If it's in front of company, he calmly says it's not the time or place to discuss it and we'll do it later when we're all calmer. He also makes sure they know it's not okay to use foul language when speaking to us as parents and they will get no response that way. He's great at disengaging and walking away, but always going back to listen when things are calm.
SandraZamito SandraZamito 5 years
I hear you on this subject, I agree to remain calm because I have found that if I start yelling back it just makes it worse and we wind up in a war. Just listening to them and trying to get them to open up about what is bothering him/her is very helpful.
GeorginaPanza GeorginaPanza 5 years
my teen carries on the same way. He is so smart on his mouth sometimes i just feel like knocking him out but as you all say i must stay calm.
TaniaArana TaniaArana 5 years
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