What to Do When Your Teen Is Being Rude

Steps to Address and Prevent Rude Behavior

Mother and daughter talking seriously

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Teenagers can be rude and lash out when in a bad mood or before thinking about what they are saying. This can be embarrassing for a parent but also a chance to coach your teen on appropriate behavior. Your child's future success in life, socially and professionally, requires suppressing the urge to be rude and choosing more appropriate words and actions. Here is what to do when rude behavior occurs and how to prevent it.

Reacting to Rude Behavior

As a parent, you have to pick which battles to fight with your teenager and when those batters occur. While your teen may be rude in front of company or in public, you don't need to discipline him right then and there. If you do, it will only add to the frustration you and your teen are feeling. You could also embarrass your teen to the point where he has a full-blown meltdown.

What do you do at the moment that your teen is being rude to you? There are a couple of things you can try but the best one is usually to ignore it until you can be alone with your teenager. The other is to ask your teen politely to stop doing the behavior. Whichever you pick, it should be followed by a conversation with your teen.

Talking to Your Teen About Rude Behavior

When you talk to your teen after the rude behavior you'll want to cover several points:

  1. Tell him what bothered you about his behavior. Use clear messages and be specific.
  2. Ask your teen if there was a reason for the behavior. Use your active listening skills as your teen is talking. He may be frustrated with his friends or something at school. Or he may be angry with you for something unrelated. Be understanding of his concerns, but let him know it does not excuse their rude behavior.
  3. Explain to your teen that there are consequences for rude behavior. Tell him what the consequences are and follow through.

It is not wrong here to let the behavior slide after coming to an agreement with your teen the first time the rude behavior happens. This is a personal choice that a parent has to make.

Tips to Prevent Rude Behavior

Rude behavior in teens can be prevented for the most part. Although there will always be times when your teen gets aggravated and acts rudely—mood swings and growing pains go together—talking to your teen when they are not being rude will help. Here are some tips to help you prevent rudeness before it even starts:

  • Use good manners yourself every day in your home. Children learn what they live. When you model good manners, you will know your teen knows what they are and will use them at least some of the time.
  • Ask your teen what acceptable behavior they could do instead of being rude when they're frustrated. Then, ask your teen how you can help remind them to do the acceptable behavior. Sometimes teens have the answers you're seeking and you simply have to ask them.
  • Set up a contract about rude behavior for the whole family to follow. Be clear about the behaviors you wish everyone to avoid and the consequences that will be enacted.
  • Use family meetings to talk about politeness and what manners mean to you. Praise your teen for using his good manners at a specific time that week. Let him know that you appreciate when he does a good job.
  • Know your own moods and when your behavior borders on being rude to your teen. It's one thing to be firm, it's quite another to take out your bad day on him because his room is a mess. Take a timeout. When your teen sees you handling your frustrations this way, he will learn this positive behavior.
8 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. TeenHealth from Nemours. Emotional intelligence.

  2. LifeCare, Inc. Positive parenting strategies for the teen years.

  3. FamilyLives. Dealing with anger in teenagers.

  4. Child Mind Institute. Tips for communicating with your teen.

  5. Harvard Health Publishing. Distinguishing depression from normal adolescent mood swings.

  6. Raising Children Network (Australia). Parents: role models and positive influences for teenagers.

  7. Raising Children Network (Australia). Disrespectful teenage behaviour: how to deal with it.

  8. The Center for Parenting Education. Holding family meetings.

By Denise Witmer
Denise Witmer is a freelance writer and mother of three children, who has authored several books and countless articles on parenting teens since 1997.