Four Things to do When Your Teenager Talks Back to You

My wife and I have moved into the phase in our lives of raising teenagers and it has been a bit of a struggle. I have been running baseball camps for years and most of the time all I hear is “Yes Coach!” as the player hustles on to the next station or works on what I showed them. Getting rolled eyes, lowered shoulders, and some noise coming out of their mouth that sounds like a tire slowly losing air doesn’t ever happen.

My initial reaction was to get upset, but one day I read an article that talked about the difference between a thermometer and thermostat. A thermometer only tells you the temperature, but the thermostat controls it. When I started to respond in a calm tone versus react emotionally, it helped control the situation and create a more peaceful conversation between me and my teenager.

It’s not easy to bite your tongue when your teen says something disrespectful. However, it is important to show them a good example of how to control a situation by keeping your emotions in check. Here are four things to do when your teenager talks back to you.

Hear them out first

Teenagers want to make sure their voice is heard. Today social media is all about everyone giving their opinion on everything. It’s important to give them an opportunity to explain their side of the story before you levy a punishment on them that may not be necessary. I have said for years that “You have two eyes, two ears, and only one mouth. Therefore, if you watch and listen twice as much as you speak, you will learn twice as much.” 

Ask them some questions

Once you let your teenager speak their peace, ask them some questions that can lead towards a solution. You should also use this opportunity to ask about things you’ve been wondering about recently in their lives. It’s amazing what you learn when you open the lines of communication. 

Discipline them with love

I remember a time when I spoke back to my dad, and it didn’t end well. I felt like the conversation was very one sided and negative. I needed to be disciplined, but my dad reassuring me afterwards would have done a lot for our relationship. Instead, it built up walls. When you discipline your teen with love you are teaching them in the hopes they will learn and not make the same mistake again. There is a chance they will, so giving them grace is important as well. 

Be encouraging

It is important as a dad when you discipline your child to always circle back to them with an encouraging word. Your kid already knows they messed up. Let them know it’s ok, what they did is in the past, and that you forgive them. You have been on this earth a lot longer than they have which means you’ve messed up more than them. Forgiveness on your end fosters healing to you and your teen and will strengthen your relationship.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they will not become discouraged.”

Colossians 3:21 BSB

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