Need Help with Disrespectful Teen

Updated on January 24, 2011
L.K. asks from Austin, TX
24 answers

What to do with disrespectful teen? I have a 15 year old DD that I don’t know what to do about when it comes to her disrespect of me and her mouth. She is a good kid in all other areas but this one. All weekend I have been sick with bronchitis. I have a 9 month old baby this is also sick. My husband had to work today so it is just me. My daughter is suppose to go to a dance practice for her dance team at school this evening. She wanted one of her friends to come over and practice beforehand. I told her that her friend would have to have her mom drive her over here because I don’t want to be running around all day. I also told her to tell her friend that we are a sicky household this weekend and her mom might not want her to come over. So, my daughter comes to get my cell phone. She has her own but likes to use mine. I told her I did not know where it was and to use the home phone. She doesn’t want to do that because she wants to text. I tell her its probably in my purse. She looks in my purse but does not see it so I told her to check the car. She comes back in and says its not there. I told her its probably in the bottom of my purse then. She says, well great I will have to dump out your purse to find it. I said do not dump everything out. Reach in there and feel for it. She does not do that and dumps everything out on the kitchen table all the while telling me how disorganized I am and how I can’t keep up with anything. My phone was not in there. So I go look in the car and lo and behold it is on the seat. She said, well I didn’t look on the seat I just looked in the cup holder. For the record I am organized and I do keep up with my stuff. I have 3 kids so my purse is kind of a free for all at times but beside that I am very organized. I told her I am very sick and could care less where my cell phone was this weekend. I also told her that I did not appreciate her dumping out my purse when I specifically told her not to do that. She used her famous line that she uses quite often: “well, I did not hear you.”

I then went on to tell her that she was being disrespectful and that is not going to tell me I am disorganized and that I should keep up with my stuff. She said, well if you would listen to me. Another one of her famous lines.

She proceeds to go back to her room. I told her that her chores need to be done before her friend comes over. She says to me, I know Mom geez.

I told her not to talk to me like that or her friend would not be coming over. I then walk back into the living room and get the baby to take and change her diaper. When I walk back to the bedrooms she has shut the door that separates all the bedrooms from the rest of the house. I open and the door and said please do not close this door during the day. It prevents the heat from getting to that part of the house and I don’t want to have to open it every time I to back there.

I go back to the living room and then I need another baby shirt. I walk back to the back and she has closed the door again. I open it and I said, I told you not to close this door. And she said, well I wanted to be alone. I said you can close your bedroom door then. She said, I don’t see why I can’t close the hallway door. I said, because I want it open and I told you that already and you go and close it again not five minutes after I told you to leave it open. And she gave me her famous line again: well, I didn’t hear you. I said yes you did you were standing right in front of me. She said, well did I respond to you, if I did not respond to you then I did not hear you. I told her then that she was being disrespectful to me again and to let her friend know she could not come over.

Any thoughts or ideas on how to nip this in the bud?

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answers from Spokane on

Honestly, this sound quite normal for 15 (my 4 year old can have a sassy mouth at times). And I remember being *much* ruder to my mom at that age.

My advice would be to keep a cool, level tone when talking to her and if you threaten a consequence if she continues with the sass, then you MUST follow through - every time. I would have told her to use her *own* phone, that if she doesn't like using it then it can be taken away.

Try not to let it bug you too much. Don't respond if she's being disrespectful. And remember, she is a good kid in all other areas :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Love the book "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk" by Faber. There are great practical tips on how to communicate to get through to kids.

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answers from San Francisco on

Do you mind if I laugh while reading this?

This sounds like a typical parent-teen interaction. It's happening every day with almost every parent of teens.

Take a time out, breathe, and then let her friend come over to practice for her dance team. Her dance team is an important and healthy activity.

Your daughter actually sounds like a pretty good girl, even though she's a normal, annoying, argumentative teen.

Breathe again. And laugh. Reread your post. It really is pretty funny.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

Sounds about right for a 15 year old (yep, I have one two). Consequences usually work well for a moment or too. Keeping a calm voice and not yelling (easier said than done) works best. Tell her your phone is off limits and that if hers is not good enough, save her money and upgrade.
If you are like me, 90% of your conversations with her are correction or condemning her behavior. I am really working on trying to have real, regular conversations way more often. A lot of times, they just want you to listen without commenting much. It's so hard...and it won't get easier for a long time unfortunately. Best wishes!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It seems that most of the responses only told you that "this is normal teen behavior" or "if this is all she is doing you are lucky", I personally say you need to reel her in a bit more before these "little" bouts of being disrespectful don't turn into bigger bouts.

1st: write down things you will not tolerate anymore & sit her down to discuss them. Also give her the opportunity to tell you how she feels about anything that may be upsetting her around the home, school, etc and if there is anything she would like to see changed....and remember to respect her feelings and desires too.

2nd: Whatever you ask of her she MUST repeat to you, so she can no longer use her excuses that are soooo frustrating

3rd: Door comes off

4th: If she couldn't find your cell phone but she had 2 other options (her cell & the house phone) then why on earth would you go look for it for her. I would have left it on the car seat.

5th: Ask her in what ways she feels you are disorganized & let her know that she will now be helping you organize those areas; great mother daughter bonding time!!!

6th: good for you for not letting the friend come over after she disrespected you again.

It's important to be proactive instead of letting it go because the 'attitude fits the age', thats not teaching her anything!!!

My daughter is 20 & when she was that age we talked regularly about ways we both could change to help our relationship.....hope my input helps & good luck!

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answers from Austin on

1. if these are your biggest issues with your 15yo- then I just want to say you are doing a GREAT JOB and this is compleeeeeeeetely normal! I bet you are very frustrated but she is on the verge of hormonal combustion (she's 15) and so all 'reason' has gone out the window for her and according to her brain- she knows everything. so seriously, if this is the hardship you face, I have to say you are doing one heck of a job mom and way to go!

2. don't entertain her with arguing or explaining yourself. you're only getting her satisfaction. she doesnt need you to explain that you ARE organized or that you DID tell her not to close the door and how you KNOW she heard you. going into long winded explanations is only tiresome for you and satisfactory for her. Don't hand her the trophy and let her win bc that's what you're doing. Immediately begin stripping her of rights (phone, friends, allowance, makeup... BAM! she'll hear you next time)

3. someone please tell me how I can keep the next 10 years from happening!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?????? bless my innocent 5yo who already has "plans" for when she turns 15 (according to her this is the magic age she gets to go to the carnival and get married)

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answers from San Antonio on

See when you are feeling better.
Hormones and Wheels is a great audio book.

In the meantime; 1) As you replay the conversations you have had, I think you are talking and explaining too much. She is drawing you into long conversations and arguments to play/ manipulate you.
Keep it brief and to the point. BAM! That's it.

2) You are sick and are spending time helping her solve the problem of the phone, etc....
a 15 year old should be able to figure out a little of life on her own. And she could have, but she is used to drawing you into her problems and getting YOU to solve them. My 17 yr. old has a lazy streak and every time he can't find something or go get something or think of an answer, etc... I say, "wow, that sounds like quite a problem you have."

3) When someone in the house is sick, others should jump in to help. Try to turn that ship around so that she can be empathic and helpful to her parents. It's tough and takes persistence.....teens think they are the center of the universe, and it takes time and patience to get them to help out.

and finally 4) You need a consequence for every time she says I didn't hear you. Every single time. And it has to be something to get her attention. Our 17 yr. old used to walk out of the room when we were still talking. It drove us crazy until we realized there was no consequence to him except yelling. What teen can't tolerate a minute of yelling from his parents??? So he lost his iPod for 24 hours every time he did it. So if he did that 3 times in a weekend, he was without beloved iPod until Wed.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tucson on

I am sorry you and the baby are sick...that always seems to make everything seem so much worse. I work with teenagers and I know how frustrating they can be. Sounds to me like she is just pushing for a little respect herself. She feels like her needs are being pushed aside and is using passive aggressive tactics to get your goat. What works for me is stopping the power struggle and really listening to her frustrations and point of view. When she feels like she is being heard, the disrespect will probably disappear. Hang in there! She is an angel compared to many of the students I work with! It could be so much worse.

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answers from New York on

I have a 15 also. A change in plans seems to throw them for a loop, and having sick mom and a baby sibling meant there wasn't someone to drive her around - and at this age, socialization and friends is what it's all about. Being stuck at home with a sick mom and a baby is dullsville for a teen. I don't know if you are describing a typical day or just one bad day, but it seems like everything snowballed. Teens sometimes really do think they know better about everything, and not knowing where your cellphone was was inconvenient to HER. I'd have put an end to the cellphone drama and told her she could text her friend when she found her own phone. Having to tell her to do something more than once would result in no plans. Don't let things snowball, let her have it in an authoritative way as soon as the first disrespectful thing comes out of her mouth. Telling her she is being disrespectful is not a consequence, it's pointing out what she already knows, she was intending to be disrespectful and almost daring you to do something about it. A consequence would be taking away her phone and not allowing the friend over. Good luck and feel better soon!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on


I think your problem started right here when you said this statement .."I told her I did not know where it was and to use the home phone. She doesn’t want to do that because she wants to text. I tell her its probably in my purse. She looks in my purse but does not see it so I told her to check the car......

First of all, you should have stopped at the first command "Use the home phone"...but YOU the M. continued by counteracting what you said the first time by giving her more OPTIONS as to where she can go get the cell phone, so that she can "have what SHE wants", which is the texting! It is not like she does not have a cell of her own.

I would have left it at use the home phone, and if she wants to throw tantrums then that is her problem, because she is the one who wants to go to the dance practice, not you. Secondly, you gave her reason to disrespect you because you changed the rules, so when she became "bratty" because YOUR phone didn't happen to be in the place SHE thought it should be she has the nerve to say you are disorganized.

The thought I have on nipping it in the bud is to stick to what you said in the first place and mean it - even if she walks away mouthing - She will get the message that you run things at your house, not her. Sorry if I am being abrupt, but that scenario you mentioned needs just that.

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answers from Los Angeles on

its a phase, that thankfully passes by around 17...

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answers from Biloxi on

I have a 14 year old boy. OMG they are so mouthy at this age. My son and I joke and tease a lot but when he begins to cross a line I tell him. If he continues he gets punished...privileges, namely the PS3, goes away.

It is about who is in control - and that is you. It is much harder staying in control when you are sick - but that is when a teen should be able to help out more. You need to set house rules and explain them to your daughter. You need to tell her that disrespect will not be tolerated. Set up a system of punishments and rewards for good behavior. If she likes using your phone so much tell her that you will cancel hers since she doesn't need it.

You are on the right track with what you are doing - but I think you need to not argue back and you don't have to explain yourself. Cut it off much quicker and put your things off limits for her use. My son has to ask me to use my phone or even enter my room if I not in there. He has his own phone and none of his things are in my room unless I have confiscated them. :)

The door thing made be chuckle - I am famous for taking doors off hinges when the get closed or locked after being told not to. Either that or I remove the door knob. It has become a joke between my son and I and his friends. "Don't close the door, Miss L. will take it down!"

I hope you feel better soon. I am told that our "monster" teens outgrow this stage - so there is a light somewhere down that tunnel.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Ok, when I was around this age and was talking to my mother this way she did something so horrible to me that I pretty much nocked it off right then and there ... She recorded MANY of our conversations and played them back to me but did not tell me who it was right away ... your voice sounds just different enough most of the time you do not always recognize it ... but I listened and was like wow that kid has a mouth then she told me who's mouth it was.

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answers from Modesto on

Ahh, to be a smart alecky teen again. Sounds like normal behavior to me and it's getting to you because you arent feeling all that great. Pick your battles and dont be wishy washy when you do decide to punish her. Let her have her friend over provided you've warned the mom that you have a cold in the house, at least she'll be out of your hair for awhile doing something healthy.
You and baby need to nest on the couch and turn on some chick flicks for the day.

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answers from New York on

Well, I have a 15 yr old too (a boy) and sometimes our conversations sound just like the one you described - kind of circular with no real end-point! The push-me/pull-you stage. Although my son is mostly respectful, I do think kids enjoy arguing and debating at this age, and know exactly how to push your buttons. My best advice is to DISENGAGE - walk away, etc. Whatever you have to do to avoid escalating the situation. It doesn't help that you're not feeling your best, and also have a baby to tend to. I find it helps me to take 5 minutes to calm down when I get frustrated, or else I end up saying something too harsh that is out of proportion to the situation! You were correct to follow through on not allowing her friend to come over. Just be consistent. This, too, shall pass! Feel better.

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answers from Detroit on

I remember being a teenager myself and arguing with my mom and both of us having to have the last word. I just always felt like I wanted to be heard and she had to prove herself right instead. And my younger stepson, now 16, has been like this since he was 10 - constantly wants to argue and debate with you, about why does he have to do this, why can't he do it this way, etc. Drives me crazy - sometimes I just tell him, finally, "Because I said so!" Something I heard somewhere was that if kids are still questioning you after you've explained yourself once or twice, they are just trying to wear you down. But you might want to think about what you are going to gain by winning these arguments, and pick and choose your battles. Her saying she did not hear you or she forgot is probably just her way of absolving herself of all blame. I would not tolerate any blatant disrespect either, but I would make it very clear to her that you expect her to listen to you the first time and if she can't do that, the next time she wants something from you, you "won't hear her" either.

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answers from Austin on

It's great that you are willing to come on this site and get a perspective from someone on the outside looking in. It is exhausting to have a teenager but to have a baby and another on top of it is a challenge. Hope you are feeling better by now.

The first chance you get when the baby is napping or otherwise occupied, sit down with your daughter and tell her how hard this must be for her to have a baby sibling. It sounds like your daughter might be feeling left out. They are so emotional at this age and need to know that their mom is there for them, even when they are acting irrationally. Teenage girls are irrational. You cannot reason with them at times so don't try. Don't focus on all the things she is doing that shows disrespect or you will get very frustrated.

Right now, list as many things as you can that you are proud of her for. Then when you sit down with her, tell her you have been thinking about her life right now and what might be frustrating. Tell her how proud you are of her and what she does that has been really helpful. Then tell her that you know it must be frustrating to have a mom that doesn't seem to communicate with her very well. Ask her how she would prefer to have you respond when she gets in a disrespectful mood. Tell her that as her mom you need to help her learn how to be more respectful even when it is hard. Let her know that you know it is hard. You've been there, but tell her you had it easier than her because you (probably) didn't have a baby around when you were a teenager.

Your daughter wants to know she is understood more than anything right now and that you respect her. You can show her respect while still disciplining her. She knows she needs boundaries but she wants to know that the boundaries and discipline is coming from someone who cares.

Then make a date where the two of you go out regularly. Just the two of you. It doesn't have to be anything expensive. It could be an ice cream cone or a chocolate shake. She will "hear" you more when she knows you still respect her, still have time for her, and love her as much as the new baby.

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answers from San Antonio on

Parenting with love and logic has the answers you need. They have a website and plenty of books. I sometimes forget to refer to these but they are always helpful. I don't think rudeness should be tolerated, and no friends should be coming to your house when your child is disrespectful or rude. It's your house not hers. Stick to the that idea, she will get over it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I try not to sweat the small stuff. The teenage years are horribly difficult for most teenagers....and therefore, for most parents as well. When I tell something to my daughter that proves to be irritating to her I ask her if she understands why I'm saying what I'm saying and have her give me the reason. If she is incorrect or doesn't know then I explain it to her pretty simply. (No long drawn out speeches.) I grew up with a parent that always answered questions with "because I say so"....which I feel is very disrespectful to children. You have to treat your children with respect in order to be respected....treat them the way you want them to treat you.

With that said, occasionally my daughter does become disrespectful and I charge her $1 for it. It is the thing that works with her. I always give her a reminder if I see her becoming disrespectful to give her the chance to change her attitude which she usually does.

Whatever you do make sure to be consisitant and not to be too harsh. Make sure your expectations are realistic.

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answers from Waco on

Please read Parenting with Love and Logic! You will be SOOOO glad that you did. It will teach you how to set enforceable limits, how to raise a responsible kid, and keep your sanity! I really think it is a must-read for all parents. Many churches also offer Love and Logic classes, as well.



answers from Houston on

I find with my teens I use a lot of the same practices as when they were in the terrible twos. Sya what you are going to say. Then say " Now what did I say? " Make her repeat back to you what you just told her. That way she cannot plead " I didn't hear you.". And stick with it. The mom saying you gave her too many options, too many outs has a point.
Just like with toddlers. Give an "either/or"- works better than a "my way or the high way" as they feel they have some autonomy. She could use her phone or use the house phone. Or use the house phone or find yours-but you are sick and it isn't your problem if she can't find it.
Treat her like she is two until she can get it together. I also find my teenage daughters especially have the same melt down points as two year olds. Not enough sleep and not enough food will trigger bouts of rudeness, grumpiness, etc. Sometimes when one of them is being short with me I feed her rather than getting on her case. Once she has food, she's a doll.
Good luck.



answers from Houston on

It seems to me that if she cannot "hear" you or be respectful, she needs to have her cell phone taken away for a significant amount of time. During this time she doe not get to use your cell phone, either!!! I know that it is hard to be strict when you don't feel well, but if you don't nip this in the bud, she will get worse.
She must also be getting to the age when she wants to learn to drive. That is a privilege, not a right, so now would be a good time to have that discussion about what type of responsible behavior she must exhibit in order to learn to drive and have driving privileges.



answers from Las Vegas on

Take control Mom, your are the mother that feeds her, clothes her and keeps a roof over her head. You need to take control. First and foremost never let any child walk all over you. You are the root of your own problems if you dont put your foot down. You cause your anger with her. So why not be YOU. what I am saying is never let a child in your personal stuff, she does not need to be in your purse, have her bring it to you and you will look. I believe in being firm, if you dont like it, when you have your own place, then you can do things your way. If this had happen in my household with the door, to show her who is in control, i would have taken the door for the hindges and put it in the other room to prove a point. If again YOU dont stand up to her now, it will get worse when she gets older. She thinks she can do this now, just wait. It's not being mean, it's being a MOM..Stand up for yourself and your household. Someday she will get it and understand.
She will respect you or she will pay the price. Put you foot down mom.
You are the Monarch of the family... YOU rule..



answers from Victoria on

I don't have teenagers, so it is easy for me to say well i'd just do this or that, but as I have found, reality isn't so easy. In my house there are a few things we don't let go, these are disrespect, dishonesty, disobeying direct orders, temper tantrums, and aggression (hurting people or things). I have my 4&5 years olds pay fines for any infractions with their toys. Other stuff like not cleaning rooms, or leaving messes in bathroom etc.. i take privledges away. for your daughter, she sounds as though she needs help getting in touch with her family not being isolated away like she wants. I would make her pay for her infractions with good old fashion chores. In your story, which is funny as another poster stated to those not there dealing with it. When I read it, I see that your daughter is doing to you what my preschoolers try & do to me and that is make their problem my problem. So, being sick, and your daughter needing the phone of her choice, you should never been put in a position to look for or discuss where YOUR phone was. When my kids come to me with "I can't find it....." My standard comment is YOU want it, YOUR problem, let me know how it turns out. Situation over. It puts their problem back on them and they have to figure it out for themselves and in the long run prepares them for adulthood where there is nobody to take care of our problems. Yes, she will not like it. Yes, she may eye roll, but not if it costs her to have to clean all the toilets in the house. All the other stuff came up cause YOU didn't snap to and do want she wanted. Pretty much a temper tantrum cause she didn't get want she wanted when she wanted it.

When she says if you would listen to me, i would respond with "the day I listen to you and do as you say, will be the day that you are the sole provider for me and mine, as it is currently the other way around, you may go and gather all the trash and take it out for your disrespectfulness."

As to the "I didn't hear you" (this is her way of not having to be responsible, a cop out line and again making her problem, yours). I would respond with, "My job isn't to make sure you hear me, rather it is your job to make sure you hear, so speak up and ask if your not sure about the words that are coming out of my mouth." Dishes need to be done, or shower needs scrubbing, or house needs vacuuming and so that you know, I do not want this door shut. (do not explain, Alphas never explain) This isn't mean, followers by nature don't need an explanation of why, they are content to let the Alphas handle the stress of decisions and other alpha types will figure it out since they tend to make decisions quite easily on their own.

other alpha types can follow another Alpha if they respect and trust them. Since your daughter has been able to disrespect you, she doesn't see you as the Alpha but an equal and by her telling you what to do, she is trying to be the Alpha over you. So, fight fight fight day in & day out.

Chores will physically wear her out, if she is tired, she won't put up much of a fight when you discipline, and then when she is being her sweet lovable self, love her and reward her with privledges etc....

At least this is my plan A. Hope this helps since I don't have teens and can't say how well it works in reality. Looks good on paper though. LOL

Bright side, your daughter is pretty smart at finding out what works for her so she should do pretty well for herself if she can harness those brains for good & not evil. Hee Hee

Hope you feel better soon & your baby too.

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