sassy teenagers

The Sassy Teenage Game Plan

When our kids talk back and push us to the limit, there is one response that Bill Cosby’s father coined that reigns supreme.

As our kids grow up, the work goes from physical to mental.  When they enter the teenage years, it reaches a new level of intensity.  No one has the ability to get under a parents skin quite like a teenager.  They can get mouthy and have a come-back for everything we say.  Tension fills the house, blood pressures rise, and we may say and do things that we’ll later regret.  We need to be on our best game.  Here’s a solid Sassy Teenage Game Plan to help you do just that.

1. Be Self-controlled.

Teach self-control. But how? How do you teach right behavior so it sinks in without yelling, making threats, or other emotional fireworks?  It’s important to avoid heated emotions. Your child probably thrives on getting a reaction out of you.  If you do get angry, you’re essentially letting her control the situation.

2. Give Choices.

In their book Parenting with Love and Logic, Foster Cline and Jim Fay describe how there is a way to maintain control and let your child save face—by giving her choices.  The important thing is to offer her two or three choices that are all agreeable to you.

You can’t reason with a child when she’s sassing you.  Giving her choices will give her the chance to cool down until she can speak calmly.  You could say, “Honey, would you like to go to your room, go outside, or go down to the basement?  You’re free to come back when you can talk calmly like I am.”  Just keep urging her to politely relocate until she can be polite.

3. Find the Source.

Once tempers have cooled off, try to figure out your child’s reasons for being disrespectful. Discuss it with the purpose of learning about your child—not just stopping an ugly behavior.  Maybe she’s just being hyper and needs to let off steam.  Perhaps it happens when you’ve asked her to do something and she doesn’t want to do it.  Does she feel put down?  Or like she’s being controlled?  Does she really mean the rude words she’s saying?  Draw your child out and listen without being judgmental or defensive.

You still need to reinforce the fact that the behavior is unacceptable.  That’s important.  However, getting to the source of her misbehavior will give her the tools to resolve these issues in a more effective way.

Huddle up with your teenager tonight and ask them what in their life is giving them the most stress.