Should I read my teen's texts

Dealing with Disrespectful Teenagers: How to Respond Correctly!

Respect during puberty: parents are the most important role model!

The hairs on the back of the neck of some adults stand up when, for example, they listen to and watch students waiting for the school bus: insults, jostling, kicks against school bags, etc. - some things may even be meant "funny", but it is definitely not respectful! Unfortunately, not all adults have their hair on end when making remarks like this, because let's be honest: it is not uncommon for children and adolescents to observe disrespectful behavior in adults too. Many young people have also experienced for themselves that adults behave disrespectfully towards them, for example through disparaging remarks from teachers, annoyed looks at the supermarket checkout or openly aggressive behavior.

Remember that as a parent, you are always the first point of reference for your child. Even if your adolescent child sometimes gives the impression that he doesn't care what you think, say or do, that's not true! Before puberty, your child had already had a lot of time to observe and learn how you behave towards other people and how much respect you show. During puberty, your child will want to put your inner attitude and your moral convictions to the test again with his growing critical awareness and his willingness to discuss things.

If you are open to such conversations, then the topic “Respect” offers enough material for intensive and full-length “arguments” with your growing child. Who or what deserves (special) respect? How do I show other people that I respect them? How can I act if someone is disrespectful to me? Respect and tolerance - similarities and differences ?! And, and, and ... Just as important as these conversations is that your child learns through your concrete actions that you treat other people and your child with respect. Through you, their most important role model, your child learns to empathize with the feelings of other people and to feel when a person feels treated with respect or disapproval.

Lack of respect for adolescents is often homemade!

But it is also quite possible that your child shows disrespectful behavior despite your tried and tested role model. But even then, you should not only look for the reasons for this in the environment of your child outside the home. It would be superficial to look for the conditions for a lack of respect exclusively “in others” - the school, society or the media. When children fail to show respect, compassion, a look at the "bank account of parenting" can be instructive. A lack of respect and empathy in children can result from:

  • a laissez-faire attitude in the upbringing that a child perceives as indifference
  • an inconsistent parenting style, where the carrot and stick stand side by side and which leaves the child feeling at the mercy of one another
  • wrong expectations of the young personthat overwhelms him intellectually and leaves his emotional needs unmet
  • an overprotective parenting stylethat does not allow the teenager to be independent and thus keeps him dependent on his parents and restricts his development.

Avoid the laissez-faire attitude during puberty!

As examples from my practice show, children and young people are looking for support and orientation. In laissez-faire education, however, both are missing. There are no stable boundaries "defended" by parents or clear consequences with which border crossings are punished. Even when teenagers cross such a boundary through their disrespectful behavior and demand consequences, the behavior of the parents is often only exhausted in screaming and despair. A "no" must be reliable! Those who give in to their child again and again support the disrespectful behavior, but hold back what the pubescent really wants, namely real affection and interest from the parents, emotional closeness and protection, which would sometimes prove itself by a decided "no".

Lack of boundaries encourages "wrong" behavior in the teenager

Just as overprotection allows only spatial confinement and physical closeness and thus prevents independence and autonomy, the laissez-faire style behind the - from a parental point of view - supposedly unlimited freedom offers impersonal distance and - for the child - unmanageable expanse. Both the lack of emotionality and the lack of orientation can give rise to fear of abandonment and loneliness in the young person. If these become unbearable, the adolescent can show open resistance, destructive aggressiveness, over-motor skills or a lack of distance. Your child will even accept that you "don't like" them. Such behavior is an expression of a desperate search for support and orientation, for location and point of view, for meaning and closeness.

  • My tip for more respect from your teenage boy
    Offer your child emotional closeness and set clear boundaries! Attention, emotional closeness and the setting of limits and consequences are therefore not mutually exclusive. Your child, on the other hand, only feels emotional security and protection when they are sure of their parents. Similar to stable guard rails on the right and left of the street, you secure the path of your pubescent child with fixed boundaries and manageable consequences. Therefore, do not be afraid to insist on compliance with limits. In order for your child to succeed in this, however, it needs your permanent interest, your positive attention and your attention.

This parenting behavior also promotes disrespect among young people

Typical of a “carrot and stick” parenting style is the unpredictability of parental behavior. With such an upbringing, your child cannot reliably predict how his parents will react to his behavior - sometimes with (exaggerated) care, sometimes with (severe) sanctions. If young people lack the security in assessing their closest caregivers because the boundaries are constantly changing, they also lack security in their own actions. This lack of self-confidence can be expressed, for example, by fleeing to computer or film worlds. Through over-identification with the omnipotent media heroes, young people then compensate for their own deficits and insecurities. Antisocial, i.e. also disrespectful behaviors due to their lack of self-esteem are a logical consequence of young people who grow up with this style of upbringing. In this context, destructive and unsocial behaviors of adolescents must be understood as a desperate cry for support, protection and orientation.

My advice: Agree on "logical consequences" for crossing borders!

Agree on "logical consequences" for crossing borders! You will become reliable and predictable for your child when they know the limits within which they can move and already know in advance what the consequences will be if they exceed these limits. Make sure that your child accepts these consequences not as an arbitrary punishment but as a logical consequence of their wrongdoing. For example, if your child regularly comes home late in the evening, then a logical consequence would be that the next evening out would be canceled every time your child was late again. This is the only way for the consequences to benefit your child's positive development.

Correctly interpret boundaries and disrespectful behavior

Crossing boundaries and disrespectful behavior (as a variant of crossing the boundary) always indicate that your child is reviewing their relationship with you. Children and adolescents test - sometimes more, sometimes less - through trial and error how far you can go with your caregivers, when the limits of resilience in your relationship have been reached. Your child is then looking for clear feedback and recognizable boundaries. Of course, as your child gets older, you have to rethink some boundaries and set them differently, but here your child is looking for clarity, reliability and orientation.

Reject humiliation and insults resolutely!

If your child verbally attacks you, insulting and degrading you, you must act immediately. If you accept insults without comment, you reinforce them. Sometimes ignoring and ignoring can be a pedagogical tool in the playful way of dealing with border crossings. But if your child hurls humiliating insults at you, then your child interprets your lack of comment as indifference and an invitation to continue. Aggressive behavior towards things and people can be intensified. The same applies if your child insults other family members, friends, acquaintances or strangers who do not defend themselves decisively. Here, too, you have to intervene and make it unmistakably clear to your child that his disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated. From studies of learning theory we know that the willingness to injure and destroy other people is given when the victim has been degraded beforehand. Doing nothing or ignoring it would make it easier for your child to act out his aggressions unchecked. In doing so, however, you would be making a contribution to disregarding yourself, certainly unintentionally.

  • Therefore: Resolve all humiliations and insults against your child! For example, say:“I don't want you to talk to me like that! Stop it immediately, you are hurting me! "