When Your Teen Talks Back

Somewhere around puberty, the giggles of childhood become huffs and sighs and your teen talks back. You notice that your teens have stopped asking you questions, and they’re questioning everything that you do. When they’re not complaining or criticizing, they’re talking back. It’s normal for parents of teens to experience these interactions. And you’re not alone in seeking support to ease the tension during this phase.

What’s Causing the Change When Your Teen Talks Back?

The chemicals in your teens’ brains can cause them to be impulsive, emotional, and take more risks. They begin to exercise more independence, but they don’t always have the experience or knowledge to make wise choices, and they are still learning communication skills to express themselves appropriately. Try to see things from their perspectives. During this stage, their whole world revolves around themselves—their school, their friends, and their activities. They’re not so much concerned about your perspective as it pertains to them.

Start Early and Remind Often

The first sign of the “teen attitude” is the time to start talking to your child about expressing themselves with appropriate boundaries. Topics about drugs, sex, and alcohol are bound to come up, so don’t avoid them, and address them as they surface. When they make poor choices, avoid shaming and blaming them, and use these times as teachable moments. Help your teen to understand how their decisions have impacted others. Many parents find it helpful to become friends with their teens’ friends parents, which gives you additional sets of eyes to look out for them.

Choose Your Words and Your Battles

Set reasonable expectations and try to gain their cooperation. Make sure they know the consequences for violating your trust and be sure that you can follow through with them. Their words may hurt you, but don’t take it personally. A little thick skin goes a long way.

Before you respond to backtalk, remember to check your own attitude because their attitude may be a reflection of yours.

Seek professional help if your teen makes poor choices across different settings. Drastic weight changes, a drop in grades, diminished interest in activities, or talk of sadness or suicide are signs that your teen may need professional help.

Paradox Psych Services is a child and teen therapy center located in Carlsbad at Bressi Ranch and Aviara Parkway. Our teen therapists at Bressi Ranch are also near San Marcos. We offer an action and goal-oriented approach to child and teen therapy. To learn more about our services, contact us today for a free phone consultation.

About Susan Gehrig, PhD

Susan Gehrig, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of Paradox Psychological Services located in Carlsbad. She has a passion for supporting the wellbeing of children and teens. Her expertise is in child mindfulness and self-compassion, cognitive behavioral therapy, and child development. Dr. Gehrig provides psychoeducational testing and therapy services to help build a plan for success. Paradox provides services for families of San Diego North County and greater areas.

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