For Less Aggressive Behaviour:

  • try to maintain a calm and peaceful presence – you need to be strong without being threatening
  • make sure your body language reflects your willingness to listen
  • avoid staring them in the eye and give them personal space
  • if an argument feels out of control, explain to your teen that you are going to walk away and come back again in half an hour in order for things to calm down

For More Aggressive Behaviour

Draw a Line – You cannot be vague about aggression. Your teen can be unaware or not care about what is and isn’t ok. You need to ban

  • Yelling at an adult
  • Throwing things
  • Hitting and other forms of physical aggression
  • Threatening violence
  • Taking intimidating physical stances (getting in someone’s face with threatening gestures)
  • Carrying weapons

Establish clear consequences– Most aggression by teenagers is impulsive, not thought out, therefore simply explaining why you don’t want them to be violent, wont work.

  1. Use Consequences That Have Meaning

It’s almost never effective to give your child a consequence in the heat of an argument. Often, parents will be either too harsh or too lenient, because nothing appropriate comes to mind immediately.

  1. Don’t Try to Appeal to His Emotions with Speeches

Remember, your job is not to get your child to love his sister or to appeal to his emotions with a speech because all he will hear is, “Your sister looks up to you, blah, blah, blah.”

Your job is to take his phone and say:

“Hey, we talk to each other nicely around here. And if you can’t do that, then you can’t use the phone. We’ll talk about giving it back to you after you talk nicely to your family for 24 hours.”

  1. Make Consequences Black and White

When you give a consequence, the simpler you keep things, the better. Again, you don’t want to get into details and long speeches. What you want to do is lay out your consequences for your teen’s inappropriate behavior very clearly.

It’s often helpful if he knows ahead of time what will happen when he acts out. The consequences for your child’s behavior should be clear to him. Tell him:

“If you talk nastily to your sister, this is what’s going to happen from now on.”

And whenever you’re going to introduce an idea to your child that may be unsettling, anxiety-provoking, or frustrating to him, do it when things are going well, not when everybody’s screaming at each other. Wait until a calm moment and then lay out the consequences simply and clearly.

  1. Talk to Your Teen About Effective Problem-Solving

I think it’s vitally important to have problem-solving conversations with your teen after an incident has occurred. When things are going well, you can say:

“If you get frustrated with your sister in the future, what can you do differently, other than to call her names?”

You might help generate some ideas by saying:

“Instead of calling her names, how about going to your room and listening to some music for a fwhile? Could you do that?”

And try to help your teen come up with his own ideas. He might say, “If she follows me around the house, I’ll go to my room.”

You can then say:

“All right, why don’t we try that? For the rest of today, if your sister bothers you, pick one thing that you’ve thought of and see if it’s helpful.”

Conversations like these are how you get your teen to think about alternative solutions other than yelling at his sister, name-calling, or acting out.

Look at it this way: we all get frustrated, we all get angry, and we all get anxious. But everyone has to learn to deal with those feelings appropriately. And a problem-solving conversation is the most effective way to talk with your teen about change.

  1. Don’t Get Sucked into an Argument over Consequences

Don’t accept every invitation to argue with your child. Understand that he wants you to get upset so he can drag you into a fight.

Your child also wants to show you that he’s not hurt by the consequence you’ve given him. Believe me, I understand that it’s annoying and frustrating as a parent. Kids will try to push your buttons by saying: “Who cares. Whatever.” But don’t get sucked into it. Just say:

“All right, it’s too bad that you don’t care. That means it’s just going to happen more often.”

Then go do something else. And remember, while you don’t want to get sucked into a power struggle, you also don’t want to destroy your teen’s pride by demeaning him. You just want him to stop talking poorly to his sister.

  1. Don’t Teach Your Teen How to “Do Time”

Many parents get frustrated and ground their kids for long periods of time in order to make the punishment stick. Personally, I think that’s a mistake.

If you simply ground your teen, you’re teaching him to do time. And he won’t learn anything new. But if you ground him until he accomplishes certain things, you can greatly increase the effectiveness of the consequence.

I always say to make your consequences task-oriented, not time-oriented. So if your teen loses his video game privileges for 24 hours, he should be doing something within that time frame that helps him improve his behavior. Simply grounding him from his video games for a week will just teach him how to wait until he can get them back—not how to behave more appropriately. Many parents believe the key to making consequences effective is to get a bigger hammer, but that’s not a sound teaching method. And it’s ineffective. Think about it, if you ground him for 30 days and then he does something wrong tomorrow, what are you going to do? Ground him for 40 days? It won’t be effective at that point. And you probably won’t stick to it anyway. You are basically out of grounding ammunition!

But, if you ground him for 24 hours, then if he misbehaves again later in the week, you can ground him again. Again, we want consequences to be learning experiences. A consequence that doesn’t fit the crime will just seem meaningless to your teen, and won’t get you the desired result.

Remember, you don’t want to be so punitive that your teen simply gives up. And you don’t want to use up all your consequences ammunition all at once. It’s ineffective and doesn’t translate to better behavior. And better behavior IS the goal.

  1. Engage Your teen’s Self-interest

As a teenager, he won’t care about how Dad feels. Adolescents are frequently very detached from the feelings of others, particularly their parents. They might feel guilty and say they’re sorry later, but you’ll see the behavior happen again.

So learn to appeal to their self-interest, and ask him the question:

“What can you do so you don’t get in trouble next time?”

Put it in his best interests. Say to him:

“Understand, if you’re going to talk to your sister meanly or curse at her, things are only going to get worse for you, not better. I know you want to keep your phone, so let’s think of ways for you to be able to do that.”

  1. Learn to Know If a Consequence Is Working

Parents often say to me, “My teen acts like he doesn’t care. So how do I know if the consequence I’m giving him is actually working?”

I always tell them, “It’s simple—you’ll know it’s working as long as he’s being held accountable.” Accountability gives you the best chance for change.

Think again about the police officer who gives the speeding ticket. Does he actually believe that a single speeding ticket ensures that a driver never speeds again? Of course not. But, the officer knows that if he holds the speeder accountable every time that even the worst offenders eventually learn to slow down.

  1. Don’t Take Away Important Events

In my opinion, there are certain things that should never be taken away from kids. For instance, you should never prohibit your child from going to the prom. Not ever. That’s a milestone in your child’s life.

Personally, I think that milestones should not be taken away. Your teen is not going to learn anything from that experience. He’s just going to be bitter.

I also believe that sports should not be taken away. I have no problem with kids missing a practice if that’s part of a consequence, but taking away the sport entirely is not a good idea.

  1. Don’t Show Disgust or Disdain

When giving consequences to your teen, be consistent and firm, but don’t show disgust or disdain.

In my opinion, you should never be sarcastic with your teen because it’s wounding. What you’re trying to do is raise someone who can function, not somebody who feels they’re a constant disappointment to you.

It’s very important to shape your behavior so that your teen knows you’re not taking his mistakes personally. Remember, the look on your face and the tone of your voice communicates a lot more to your teen than your words do. Positive regard is critical for getting your message across.