What Can You Do When Your Teen Won’t Cooperate With You?

I know it is scary to contemplate but teenagers have a mind of their own and they aren’t always going to agree with you. Not only will they not agree with you but they won’t always do what you want them to or stop doing things because you tell them not to.

One of the first things you need to do is choose your battles. How important is this little disagreement? Is it dangerous or just annoying? There are going to be some things that might not be worth battling over. Remember that teenagers can be very determined and if they feel strongly about something their lack of cooperation can go on for a long time. Things like ripped jeans, wild or strange hair-dos, and skipping breakfast might not be issue to go to battle over. Save your efforts for the big things.

Now, what if it is something big? What if it is something worth going to battle over? Then you are going to make sure that you’re well equipped.

First, arm yourself with words – or lack of them. More often than not, the more you talk the less they hear. So choose your words carefully and repeat them until they sink in. And don’t let those words be an invitation to battle. When your teenager seems to be intent on pushing your buttons, minimize the words you use even more. “Yes”, “no”, “ok”, “whatever”, and “wow” can apply to almost everything that they throw at you. Once you have said what you need to say, use those five words for everything else. It will act as a shield and the teen will back down.

Get your teen to cooperate by including them in the process of coming up with consequences.  Have a family meeting, explain your expectations, and ask for their input. They will be shocked. But they will have something to say. When you let them have some input on consequences, they are much more likely to remember them. And when they do break a rule or not follow expectations and say the consequences are fair, you can remind them that they had a say in what those consequences would be. Then, stick to the consequences.

Recommended Reading:

Positive Discipline for Teenagers: Empowering Your Teens and Yourself Through Kind and Firm Parenting

A commonsense guide for parents who want to know how to raise a responsible teen through encouragement and empowerment.


The tips in this book make sense and have made a huge positive difference on how I interact and deal with my teenage sons.

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