What Do You Say to Hard Headed Teenagers?


Raising a teenager would seem to be easier than tending to the needs of a mewling infant; however, this isn’t always the case. Yes, a teen can feed himself and he doesn’t require pesky diaper changes, but he can also argue. If you have a hard-headed teen, you may feel that every interaction you have with him is argument filled. To reduce the amount of time you must dedicate to arguing with your difficult-to-sway teenager, carefully select your words and stick to your message, making it clear that you’re in charge.

Keep Your Cool

  • Dealing with a difficult teen can certainly be anger inducing. You shouldn’t, however, allow your teen to see that her hard-headed ways are having an impact on you, reminds Patrick C. Friman, Ph.D of Boys Town Outpatient Behavioral Health Services. Some teens delight in causing their parents fits. Make it clear that you are confident and in control -- even if you don’t feel calm and confident on the inside. Keep your voice at a conversational level and speak sternly to prove to your hard-headed teen that you won’t back down.

Repeat Yourself

  • Hard-headed teens often try to pull their parents into arguments. Thwart your teen’s attempts to do this with the broken record technique. If your teen tries to argue, repeat what you just said. By restating the response regardless of what he says to you, you clearly communicate that your decision is final. After your teen learns that you won’t change your mind, he will dedicate less time to trying to sway you.

Explain Your Concerns

  • “Because I said so,” is a tired excuse that simply won’t satisfy a hard-headed teen. While it’s true that you’re the parent and you shouldn’t have to justify your decisions, explaining your rationale can entice your teen to accept your answer with less argument. Instead of telling your teen that he can’t go out with his friends on New Year’s Eve, tell him that you worry about the drunk drivers on the road on this party-rich night. While explaining your reason likely won’t make him immediately agree with you, it may decrease the amount of time he dedicates to arguing as he will see that your decision is based in reason.

State the Consequences

  • If you have given your answer several times and your teen still refuses to comply, remind him of what will happen if he chooses not to follow the request. State clearly and unequivocally what will happen if your teen elects not to abide by your rules. If you have told your teen that he can’t stay after school the next day and he threatens to do so despite your lack of permission, tell him exactly what his consequence will be if he follows through with this plan of defiance. When outlining the consequences, say, “If you choose to…” followed by what will happen. If he does make a bad choice, follow through with your promised consequence.


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