Why Yelling At Your Teen Always Backfires

Try as we might, few amongst us haven’t fallen into the trap of raising our voices and yelling at our defiant teens. It can be a challenge to raise a teen at the best of times. Throw in defiance, frustration, and a feeling of never-ending rebellious attitude, and you have the recipe for a parent bound to raise their voice from time to time.

Your teen might be yelling at you, ignoring your instructions, being irresponsible, or being disrespectful. You find yourself yelling right back at him until you go your separate ways. In a more relaxed environment, you may wonder what it was that sent you over the edge. You may wonder why your teen was able to push your buttons so easily.

For many of us, yelling is a natural reaction when your teen is triggering your emotions. Even though you know that you should remain calm and logical, it’s hard to do that when emotions are running high.

While it may feel like a justified and natural response, yelling at your teen is not going to get you the results you want. Even when your teen is being defiant and yelling at you, yelling back at them can do more harm than good.

What is the right approach, then?

How do you get your teen to listen to you or behave and follow the household rules without raising your voice?

Losing your temper may feel satisfying at the moment, but it won’t feel very good when emotions settle.

The message yelling sends your teen

A raised voice can send the message that you are not in control of your emotions. It can also come across as hurtful and intimidating.

Your teen may stop his defiant behavior temporarily as a result of your yelling, but it’s not a long-term solution to his attitude and behavior.

In years past, parenting by intimidation may have been the way things were done. Since then, we’ve learned that intimidation isn’t the best way to build a good relationship between parents and teens.

Parents may have never given a single thought to physically striking their teens but didn’t hesitate to raise their voices. Sometimes yelling can leave scars deeper than any physical abuse.

Another concern is that yelling and coming across as losing control of your temper can send the message that your teen can control your emotions or that responding in anger is an appropriate response to conflict.

Stay cool, calm, and collected

Frustration and anger can be contagious, but so can a calm approach and demeanor. If you approach your defiant teen with a cool and collected mindset, you will be modeling the behavior you’d like them to take when approaching challenges.

Beyond that, it will allow you to approach difficult situations from a logical perspective rather than one that’s highly emotionally charged. We are more likely to say the wrong and hurtful thing when anger and frustration lead the charge.

It’s essential to remember that you are not responsible for your teen’s decisions, choices, and behaviors. You are responsible for your own decisions, choices, and behaviors. Once you recognize this, you’re likely going to feel a drop in your levels of frustration and anxiety as you approach your defiant teen.

For example, if your teen decides that he’s going to ignore his homework to go out with friends, you’re not responsible for him keeping up with his responsibilities. You’re accountable for the way that you respond to him and his choices.

Your responsibility is to help your teen learn to follow the rules and stick to consequences assigned to rule-breaking actions.

Learn your triggers

After a few explosive moments with your defiant teen, you likely know what triggered you into yelling and losing your temper. For example, if your anger and yelling have been triggered when your teen is rude, you can prepare ahead of time how you will approach the situation when he is next rude.

It’s easy to be caught off guard, but with time you’ll learn to take a breath and change how you respond to him. Take a timeout for yourself. Go for a walk, take care of some household chores, or perhaps do something else that will help to relax and center you.

By gaining control of your reactions to the behaviors that trigger you, you’ll be in a much better position for your teen to learn the appropriate way to behave.

Your teen has the right to pick how he will behave, even if he chooses poor behavior. You can’t control his choices and his preferences. Instead of yelling, guide him into a better way of thinking through consequences and modeling the behavior you’d like for him to demonstrate.

Everyone has stress

An angry reaction to your defiant teen could be caused by the stress he’s adding to your life, his defiant behavior could be stemming from his stress. Yelling can be an indicator of just how stressed you both are.

Is your teen struggling with the stresses he’s experiencing at school?

Have there been recent changes at home?

While most kids can cope well with life changes, sometimes major changes and shifts in the family dynamic can lead them to feel intense stress.

By yelling at your teen, you’re only adding to his levels of stress. In turn, he’ll continue to be defiant and add to your levels of stress. This can lead to an almost endless cycle of frustration, stress, and relationship challenges between you and your teen.
Work on the stress you’re experiencing in other aspects of your life. Help your teen to work through the things in his life contributing to his stress levels. Putting this work in together can help you and your teen learn how to communicate more effectively.

Yelling at your teen does bring with it the risks of doing irreparable harm to your relationship. Working together to resolve frustrations can go a long way towards finding your way back to a good family relationship.

If your teen is struggling with his anger, get him the help that he needs. We can all benefit from getting help with the struggles we face to learn coping skills and identify triggers. What that looks like will vary based upon the individual needs and the dynamics of your family.

Some defiant teens respond well to individual therapy, while others respond better in a residential treatment center that focuses on healing in a supportive environment.

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