The National Parenting Center

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Talking Back

Some talking back is normal. We want our teenagers to express their anger through talking, and when a teen challenges our decisions and opinions in a logical way, we need to listen. Expect your teenager to present his case passionately, even unreasonably, but let the small stuff go; it’s only words. On the other hand, don’t accept screaming, being rude, or swearing.

• First, if your teen screams his argument, simply reply, “We don’t scream in this house. Either talk in a calm voice or our discussion is over.” And walk away if necessary.

• Second, if your teenager makes rude or insulting comments about you, such as calling you stupid or a jerk, give him an “I message.” Say, “I feel hurt when you say rude things like that or when you put me down.” Say this in a non-angry way.

• Third, if his argument turns into a string of profanity, simply state, “No swearing in this house. Get back to me when you want to talk civilized.”

In summary, teach your teenager that everyone has the right to disagree and even to express anger, but that screaming and rudeness are not the way to go. Some of your best teaching will come from being a good role model yourself, whenever you disagree politely or apologize.

During Dr. Schmitt’s 20 years as a medical practitioner and researcher, he has published over 100 articles or chapters on pediatric health care, and has been awarded the distinguished C. Anderson Aldrich Award by the American Academy of Pediatrics for outstanding contributions to the field of child development. Schmitt has also authored five books including Your Child’s Health, which won Child Magazine’s first Hall of Fame Award in 1991. Schmitt is also a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and on staff at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado.


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