7 Keys to Dealing with Difficult Teenagers


Teenagers are a unique and often conflicted race. As a group, they yearn for individuality but yearn for acceptance by their peers. They act like they know it all and yet they are very inexperienced. They feel invincible, yet they often lack security. Some tough teens they thrive on testing and challenging authority. Some can be self-destructive.

It’s not easy when you have to coping with difficult teenagers in your life, whether they are your children, students, athletes, members of a group or employees. What can you do with a defiant teenager? Below are seven keys to successfully managing teenagers. Not all of the advice below may apply to your particular situation. Just use what works and leave the rest.

Avoid giving away your power

One of the most common characteristics of difficult teenagers is that they like to pressure you and make you react negatively. This can be done in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, teasing, disobeying, not listening, talking back, changing tempers, breaking the rules, shooting, bargaining, and taunting. During these periods, the more reactive and upset you become, the more the teenager will think he has power over you: he put pressure on you!

The The first rule of thumb when dealing with a difficult teenager is to stay calm.. The less reactive you are to provocations, the more you can use your good judgment to handle the situation. When you feel upset or called out to a teenager, before you say or do anything that could escalate the situation, take a deep breath and slowly count to ten.

In many cases, by the time you get to ten, you will have regained your composure and found a better answer to the problem, so that you can reduce rather than exacerbate the problem. If you’re still upset after counting to ten, take a break if possible and come back to the problem after you’ve calmed down.

Set clear boundaries

Since most teens want to experience greater independence and personality, some will inevitably challenge you to test the extent of your power. In these situations, it is very important to establish boundaries to maintain a viable and constructive relationship. Boundaries must be clearly and specifically articulated.

The most effective boundaries (also called ground rules, house rules, team rules, or codes of conduct) are those that are fair, reasonable, and can be consistently enforced. if you have been coping with a difficult teenager for a while without communicating clear boundaries, affirm that now things will be different and back up your affirmation with actions.

The first and most important limitation in almost every situation is that you will be treated with respect. This means that if the teenager respects you, he will also give you respect and privilege.

In addition to respect, and depending on the situation, there may also be a list of basic interpersonal, family, class, team or work rules. The list of limitations should be relatively short but clear and indicated in writing where appropriate.

Of course, some teens may deliberately push your limits to see if you’re serious and test how far they can get away with it. If this happens, apply the communication skills and strategies in points 3-7 below as you see fit.

Use assertive and effective communication

Author and former presidential speechwriter James Humes noted that: “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” This statement applies especially when it comes to working with teenagers and motivating them. When you confronting a difficult young manreinforce your position by using assertive communication skills.

In fact, in the book “How to Communicate Effectively and Deal with Difficult Teens”, teaches you how to decrease teen resistance and increase cooperation, teaches you eight ways to say “No” in a diplomatic yet firm manner, how to know if a teenager might lie and six ways to negotiating with difficult teenagers.

When dealing with a group of difficult teenagers, focus on the leader

Many teachers know that when faced with a group of disruptive students in the classroom, it is not necessary to treat each offender individually. Many times, by being firm with the leader and getting them to line up, the rest of the group will follow. Another management technique is to physically separate difficult people (via assigned seating, different work groups, etc.) so that they are less likely to form a group and feed off each other.

What works with students can also work with teenagers in other situations, whether it’s your kids, athletes, employees, or band members. By focusing on the leader and dividing and conquering inappropriate behavior, a leader is more likely to group of teenagers behave appropriately.

In benign situations, keep humor and show empathy

In relatively minor situations when a teenager is difficult, show empathy by not overreacting. Respond with a smile instead of a frown. Say to yourself with a bit of humor “it’s starting again”, then continue what you were doing.

Stay above the noise. Avoid telling a teenager what to do about trivial matters. Persistent unsolicited advice can best be interpreted as thorny and threatening to the young person’s individual personality. At worst, it can make you “the enemy” or “the other side.” Provide reasonable space for the teenager.

When a teenager picks on you, instead of feeling angry, irritated, or anxious, take a step back, take a deep breath, and complete the sentence “it can’t be easy…”

For example:

“My son is very irritable. It must not be easy to aspire to independence while living with your parents.”

“My daughter is so resilient. It can’t be easy dealing with school and peer pressure.

“This student is very unmotivated. It can’t be easy to struggle with tasks and know you’re falling behind.

Of course, empathetic statements do not excuse unacceptable behavior. The goal is to remember that many teens struggle insideand being mindful of their experience can help you relate to them with more detachment and equanimity.

Give them the opportunity to help solve problems (if any)

Many difficult teenagers behave the way they do because they think adults aren’t really listening to them. When you see an upset or upset teenager, offer them the opportunity to talk to you. Say, for example, “I’m here to listen to you if you want to talk, okay? » He is available and remind the teenager of this from time to time, but do not insist. Use the “shoot” strategy and let the young man come to you when he is ready.

In appropriate situations when communicating with a teen about their experience, listen without comment (at least for a while). Just be there and be a ‘friend’, whatever your actual role is with the young person. Allow the teen to feel comfortable talking to you.

Before offering a contribution, ask the teenager if he is ready to listen to you. For example, say, “Do you want to hear what I think? If not, that’s fine. I’m always here to listen.” Again, use the “attract” strategy and let the teen want to hear your feedback when she’s ready.

When talking about problems, involve the young person in discussions about problems and solutions. Ask, for example, “Given the desired outcome, how would you handle this problem?” See if you can come up with constructive ideas. Whenever possible, avoid insisting on a single course of action. Discuss several reasonable options with input from the adolescent and come to a mutually acceptable agreement.

On the other hand, if what you hear is mostly blame, complaint, and criticism, neither agree nor disagree. Simply say that you will heed what he said and continue with what he needs to do, including implementing the consequence.

In serious situations, implement consequences to reduce resistance, and force respect and cooperation

When a teen insists on violating reasonable rules and boundaries and doesn’t take “no” for an answer, enforce the consequence.

The ability to identify and affirm the consequence(s) is one of the most powerful skills we can use to “delete” a difficult person. Properly articulated, the consequence gives the difficult individual pause and forces them to move from resistance to cooperation.

Even if it’s not nice dealing with difficult teenagers, there are many effective skills and strategies you can use to minimize their defiance and increase their cooperation. This is an important aspect of successful leadership.


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