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Confessions: My teenagers are rude and bad tempered, how do I handle them?

 When they entered their teens they became moody, until now they seem to resent my very existence (Shutterstock)

Hi Chris,

Once upon a time my kids were cheerful and happy, and we did lots of fun things together.

But as they entered their teens they became moody, until now they seem to resent my very existence. Endlessly rolling their eyes, storming away in a huff and slamming bedroom doors.

We’re hardly ever able to have a civilised conversation, they’re so rude, secretive, and bad tempered.

What’s going wrong?

Troublesome Teens


Hi Troublesome Teens!

Don’t take it personally. All teens are naturally prickly, rebellious and secretive! They’re starting to separate from you, as they approach adulthood, and prepare to leave home.

So your teens will often be withdrawn and uncommunicative. Respect their need for privacy, and don’t try starting conversations early in the morning, or when they’re hungry! Instead watch for when they’re ready to talk.

Teens feel self-conscious and edgy about almost everything, and they’ll feel cornered however thoughtfully you tackle them. So let them approach you whenever possible.

Schedule times to talk about difficult topics, such as schoolwork, and try to avoid giving the impression they always get everything wrong.

Always respond sympathetically, or they won’t try again. They probably had to make a big effort to start the conversation. So no clever remarks. Your teen might have something important to tell you. Just stop what you’re doing and listen non-judgmentally.

Keep a straight face, even if you’re worried or furious, or they won’t try again. Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to talk, and gather information before you reply. And keep what they tell you confidential, or they won’t ever reveal their thoughts again.

There’s a lot going on in a teenager’s head, and they’re often more uncertain of things than they appear, value your support even if it doesn’t seem like it, and are very sensitive to your criticism. So listen far more than you speak. Accept their feelings, as long as they’re expressed respectfully, and avoid lecturing, nagging and guilt trips. Or jumping in with your knowledge and experience.

Don’t ask intrusive questions. Teenagers are incredibly sensitive. And often sarcastic, though that doesn’t mean they can take it themselves. Let them know when they’ve hurt you, but try not to hurt them in return. They have very long memories.

Allow them gradually increasing independence, explaining what you’re concerned about, such as their safety and whereabouts, and calmly ask them to tell you in advance where they’re going and what time they’ll be back home.

Because once they realise you trust their judgment, they’ll be more likely to behave better, and talk with you when problems arise.

All the best,


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