Disciplining a Rebellious Teen without Arguing

teen girl, crossed arms, rolling eyes, attitudeTeens are bigger, louder, and more persistent than toddlers, so how is it possible for a parent to outlast a teen’s rebellion? (See previous blog about persistence with toddlers: To Discipline, You Must Win the Face-Off.) The thing about teens is that they love to argue and to have the last word.

The Alternative to Arguing with a Teen

As parents, it’s easy to get pulled into an argument. I found that in arguments between parents and teens, no one wins. There’s an alternative, but it’s not easy.

Let’s suppose our fifteen-year-old daughter asks permission to go to an unsupervised party with her friends. We say, “No, you know I don’t allow you to attend parties when there’s no supervision.”

She may ask repeatedly, using a little different approach each time: “Emily’s mom’s letting her go.” “Nothing bad will happen.” “You just don’t trust me.” For each point she makes, we have a very good answer. (We probably heard them from our moms.) We want badly to respond, because it seems that she will hear our logic and agree. She won’t hear our logic, and if we tell her our thoughts, we find ourselves in the middle of an argument.

The Simple Answer Is “No”

Our response should be, “My answer is ‘no.’ No matter how many reasons you give me, it’s still ‘no.’”

Each time she asks, we can say “no” again or simply ignore her. Soon, she will be frustrated at her inability to pull us into an argument and will give up.

Outlasting a Rebellious Teen Is Possible

It is definitely harder to persist against the finely-tuned “arguing skills” of a teen, but it is possible. And, the pay-off is huge. Once our teen figures out that her arguments will not change our minds, she will begin to accept our first answer.

Why Is Persistence So Difficult?

Why is this so difficult? With my teens, I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut. I was convinced that if I presented my point in just the right way, I would change their minds. I don’t believe it ever happened – not even once.


Questions: Have you found a better way? I would love to hear your experiences dealing with teens who want to argue their way into getting their way.



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