Disrespectful Teenagers – Understand the Underlying Causes


Disrespectful Adolescents – CAUSES

Teenage is the most beautiful and essential period of life. This is the time when they start exploring the world, learn with experience and deal with situations all by themselves. A stage which is immensely responsible for shaping ones’ personality. Whatever we do, experience, feel, deal all leaves a huge impact for the rest of our life, which is why it is crucial to have a teenage free of irrational baggage and unresolved emotional conflicts. If you, as parents want them to behave in a particular or ‘respectful’ manner, it won’t happen by forcing them, it will just add up to their frustration and result in more defiant and disobedient attitude towards you. This journey can be overwhelming for both, parents and teenagers. So let’s start by understanding your children to gain a better understanding of why they do what they do.

Authoritarian Parenting

The worst yet the most common type of parenting in India. Parents who always have high expectations from their children, who use strict prohibitory rules and excessive punishment to have control over their kids, fall in this category. When a kid spends their childhood in such restricted environment and later gets the taste of freedom through peer interaction, they rebel, often excessively. They start comparing their parents with other parents and end up judging their behavior villainous. Black and white thinking is very common at this age.

Suppression of Frustration

Teenagers go through a lot of physical and emotional changes when they hit puberty. This introduces them to a variety of feelings they don’t have experience in dealing with healthily. Cognitive distortions like overgeneralization, polarization, blaming, etc are very common in these years. Feelings of pain and confusion often get unbearable to deal with, especially when concerns are left unaddressed and unanswered. In order to avoid consequences of confrontation, they suppress their frustration, only to burst them out later.

Impaired Peer Relationships

Yes. This too will affect parents. Teenagers have a different world. Peer pressure and expectations are huge concerns if they want to fit in. If unable to do so, they have good chances of getting bullied, humiliated in front of others which will result only in low self-esteem and bad mental health for your kid. Many of them use defense mechanism such as ‘Displacement,’ where they take out their school or college frustration on their parents to feel good about themselves. This also helps in feeding their low self- esteem but is a very unhealthy mechanism for a long run which will gradually spread in all aspects of life and they will never learn a better and healthier way to cope with difficult situations.

Lack of Communication in Family

This is the most common and neglected reason for their disrespectful behavior. They simply don’t know what’s going on in the family. Nobody talks, nobody answers. Parents assume it’s their duty to protect their children by withholding bad information. On the other hand, teenagers, who view themselves as “almost adults” get angry at their parents continuous dismissive and secretive behavior. In order to get back at their parents, they start using or doing things their parents won’t approve like back answering, staying out late, using foul language, etc. This leads to suspiciousness and hostility. Remember, if you don’t give them a proper answer, somebody else will, and that’s something you better avoid.


No kidding. Sometimes they do it just to appear ‘cool’ among their friends who view back talking with parents as an achievement of some sort. This happens because they need the social approval of a particular crowd they fancy being a part of. Do not insult or mock them in front of their friends or later they will come up with something worse and intense thing to say till they break you down. You will have to be extremely patient with such kids. Yelling and shouting or punishments won’t work. This all might end up encouraging them, making them push their boundaries which you certainly don’t want. Risk-taking behavior will surface more and success in such activities will leave them wanting for similar adrenaline rush.

Here we talked about what are the basic causes for disrespectful and defiant behavior, in the next article (Part – II) we will read about how to deal and manage such behavior.

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