A disrespectful teenager is not easiest when it comes to parenting. But there are a few things you can do because it’s never too late to teach your teenager respect, and discipline them in a way that works.

disrespectful teenager

Signs Your Teen Doesn’t Respect You

Did someone say BAD ATTITUDE?

We’ve all been there.

Staring at the crinkled face of your tween, teen, whatever you have — it’s a child with a disrespectful attitude — and thinking to yourself, ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’

As a parent, it can be daunting, staring into that face, day after day, discipline after discipline, with what feels like failed parenting.

You keep asking yourself what you’re doing wrong, how to respond better next time, and getting a bit tired of the ungrateful and entitled child you find yourself with.

You love them, yes. In fact, you would throw your body in front of a bus or rip out a person’s eyes if they tried to hurt your kids.

But that’s not the problem.

The problem is that your once innocent little sweetheart who ran into your arms every time you opened them, gave you snuggles at bedtime, and called you the most wonderful person in the world, has turned into a sassy little ingrate.

How did this happen?

When did their little heart become so angry?

Like this morning — I made the wrong type of oatmeal for my son, and he scolded me for it.

If I’m honest, it makes me not want to be around him when he gets like that, and I’m sure many of you feel the same.

You ask yourself if it’s culture or how you raised him that causes this…this animosity.

Perhaps it’s because you spoiled him. Maybe it’s because you live in America. Yeah, that’s it.

But with every justification, you realize there’s not much to be done about it.

You can’t take away everything they own. Or can you?

You can’t make them walk to school instead of driving them. Or can you?

No, they might get stolen for human trafficking.

Are there safer ways to show your entitled little pre-tween what’s what?

Yes, so many of us have been there, or ARE there.

So what should we do?

The first thing you should do is to make sure YOU are being respectful to them. I won’t elaborate, as you can read it in the post I linked to above.

Basically, the best way to teach respect, is to show respect.

Understanding your teenager’s brain

Before you go ANY further, read this article.

It will help you understand why your son (if you have one) is being mean to you. In fact, it will OPEN YOUR EYES and blow your mind.

So read that, then come back here, and we can talk about it. It’s probably the best parenting article I’ve ever read.

Now that you’ve read that your son’s behavior has a lot to do with puberty and his rapidly growing brain, you now feel a little empathy for him, right?

You understand them a little better.

That’s good.

Because understanding your child is HUMAN is where the miner finds the gold.

You have needs, right? You need empathy, love, understanding, affirmation, affection, and so much more.

And as a mature adult, you realize that throughout your life, your understanding of your needs has grown. Now that you’re old, you get it. Or at least a little bit.

But if you really ask yourself, are you without a bad attitude?

Do you sometimes have moments or days where you aren’t reacting in a kind or respectful way to those around you? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

So let’s come at this from that perspective. Because in most of my parenting advice, I will always point you back to that truth — identifying with your kids is one of the best things you could do as a parent. They are human, just like you. They make mistakes just like you. But the difference is that they aren’t an adult yet.

And just as you have needs and bad attitudes so does your kiddo.

Why your teen isn’t being respectful

There is no fix it fast button. They will most likely have bad attitudes for their entire life.

But there is something we can do. Along with empathizing and identifying with them — add in a WHOLE LOT OF GRACE — there are some practical things to consider if your child is having a dude or a girl tude.

You see, Your son doesn’t understand why his brain thinks what it does or why when you asked him how his day went, he flips out and shuts down.

A girl doesn’t understand why her swaying hormones and body changes make her satan himself.

They don’t quite understand themselves yet. Do you understand yourself? Didn’t think so. But because you have lived a little longer, you have a little more grasp on your emotions and feelings, right? I hope so.

So what do we have here?

We have kids who are feeling all kinds of feelings, and parents who are confused about those feelings and how to respond.

Well, I decided that in the face of my own occurring confusion when it comes to my child’s bad attitude, to ask a group of extremely respected parenting experts. I call them MOMS. But not just any moms, these are great moms. The mommy bloggers who blog about momming and tell the truth about it. No sugar coating here.

Here are 5 things these parenting experts do to teach their teenager respect

disrespectful kid

1. Ask them if something happened at school or during their day that was hard

I know what you’re thinking. You do that.

But you get a response that is like, “uh, no, nothing happened.”

But you know that something is off, so you ask again. And again.


Well, if there’s one thing I know about kids, is that they will tell you on their own time.

So yeah, keep asking. But then leave it.

Tell them if they think of something, you are always there to talk.

Most of the time, if there’s something there, my son will end up coming to me about it.

Usually, something happened at school, or it’s something I did. Lately, it’s been that I’ve been paying too much attention to the little boss baby (he doesn’t talk back yet) and not him.

Whatever it is, it affects him, and the result is a bad attitude like it would be from any other human being.

So we talk about it. We work through it.

I apologize if need be, or call the school and yell at someone for bullying my kid.

But really, more often than not, I find that my kid’s bad attitude is usually a result of something that happened that’s bothering him.

An incredible tool to help your child navigate through difficulties is journaling. Check out MY LIFE JOURNALS FOR KIDS that you can print right from home!

teenager texting

2. Don’t take it personally — you’re not a bad parent

You can’t take their bad attitude personally. You will get yelled at, smacked by your toddler, the door slammed in your face.

Basically, you become a punching bag for the entire family and Ms. B down the street who doesn’t have a life, so she sets out to ruin yours.

But don’t lose heart. You’re doing a good job, mama. I mean, the fact that you’re reading this post means you care about your kid.

You want to best for them.

And however nasty your tween or teen gets with you, remember back to your childhood. Were you always nice to your parents?

Probably not.

So again, don’t take it personally. Let them know you’re always there and leave it at that. They’ll come around. Hopefully.

If you’re looking for a way to connect with your kids on a deeper level, check out this incredible dinner talk card game – OUR MOMENTS. Conversation starters that will resonate with your kids for emotional bonding and a great neutral way for them to open up to you. With questions like “If you were a superhero, who would you be?” you will find yourself laughing and connecting as a family in a unique way.

family laughing

3. Show them the facts – respect one another

There is an excellent book by Paul David Tripp called Parenting.

He talks about how you can invite God into a conversation with your kid when they are struggling and say, “God wants us to act respectfully to one another because he loves each and every one of us.”

They may have all kinds of justifications for their bad attitude, just like you do when you have a bad attitude.

But the same goes for them as it does for you — it doesn’t excuse disrespecting one another.

So teach them that.

Acknowledge they are struggling, or find out what the source is, but also remind them that it’s still not okay to treat you that way and apologize when you treat them disrespectfully.

teen girl

4. Ask yourself if they are physically fit – hungry, tired, hormonal, anywhere between the ages of 1 and 100, etc.

I can lump my husband AND son into this category.

They would go an entire day without drinking water if I didn’t remind them. I don’t know what it is that makes them think they can operate like a desert camel.

Of course, they get dehydrated, tired, crabby, etc., and before you know it, I’m the one to blame.

So for my own sake, I make sure they are hydrated and their tummies are full.

Sometimes, a bad attitude from your child is just a result of them not knowing how to take care of themselves quite yet.

My husband is a lost cause because he still hasn’t figured that out, which brings me to my next point.

teenager brushing teeth

5. Teach them self-care – to respect themselves

What do you do when you have a bad attitude? Go shopping? Read a book? Listen to music?

Find out what they love, and help them see that it’s okay to do those things when they feel off.

Just like a teenage girl might need to hide a little for a while or say no to an event during her lady days.

The best way to do that is to model it.

Show them that you set boundaries for yourself and know when to say no.

I know for myself; sometimes I have to sit and watch The Office so I can laugh a little, eat popcorn, have a glass of wine — after that, the world seems right again.

Sometimes — and I need to listen to this one more often — I need to pray, be in silence, and listen to what God has to say to me.

It takes me forever to realize that that’s what I need, but when I do it, it’s great.

It’s hard to tell a teenager that they should go pray, and most often that’s NOT what they need to hear.

More often than not, modeling it yourself is the best thing to do when it comes to that.

Kids learn SO much from watching you. Make sure they are learning the good things you do amid chaos and hardship.

Show them that you go to Jesus.

Show them how to take care of themselves.

When it comes to kids and bad attitudes, the most important thing to remember is that they are human. Treat them like you want to be treated when you feel frustrated and alone.

Empathize, identify, and have SO MUCH GRACE.

Thanks to all you wonderful moms who shared their wisdom so I could write this post.

Positive parenting tools for every parent 

Screen Time Protection and Teaching Moderation

I’ve recently partnered with Bark, a software to supervise, manage, and protect your child’s device use on the go. Use the code WORDBIRD at checkout to get an additional 1-month free trial after your first initial 7-day trial!

Screen Time Checklist Printable for Kids – FREE if you sign up for our weekly newsletter. Just fill out your info below. 

Book List for Kids and Parents

Check out my recommended books for parenting

Book list to teach kids about racial diversity. 

Journaling for Kids

When a child is old enough to start drawing, coloring, or writing, journaling is an incredible way to help your kids better express themselves in a free and comfortable way. Check out our Kid’s Printable Journals — created specifically to help children better express their feelings, encourage gratitude, and spark the imagination. 

Chores for Kids

Magnetized Chalk Chart for Fridge

Implementing chores and structure in your child’s daily life is a VERY helpful tool to teach them follow through, discipline, and respect. We use this chore chart in our family to help our kids keep track of their own progress, and keep you from having to constantly remind them of their daily tasks. 

If you’re looking for something a bit more simple, this is also a good option. 

Chore Chart Printable – Get it NOW from the convenience of your own printer

If you’re looking for something you can print out immediately and start implementing chores in your home today, check out this CHORE CHART PRINTABLE. With a Mandalorian theme, it makes for a lighthearted and fun way to encourage kids to do their daily and weekly “missions.”

Emotional Connectivity with Your Kids

Connecting on a deeper level emotionally with your child is CRUCIAL, and sometimes more difficult. We play THIS GAME often in our family to create a safe space for our kids to feel free to share their questions and emotions, all without judgment. 

We even offer an “Exemption Time” for the duration of this game, where anything he tells us is off the table for consequences. 

Check out these other posts on emotional connectivity on the blog!

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Hillary Gruener is a wife, mother, writer, and musician. If she's not at her desk writing content on family life, she's adventuring the world with her husband and two boys.

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