Rebel With a Cause

Learn how to deal with a rebellious child and handle the stress his growing independence brings.
Nov 28, 2012



Challenging parental authority and being rebellious are natural parts of growing up. These types of conflicts come thicker and faster at certain stages, the tween years being one of them. Kids this age are starting to figure out what it means to be independent — which in part means differentiating themselves from parents — so don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the line of fire.


Source of Discord
Your tween no longer sees you as the fountain of all wisdom. His maturing brain allows him to spot weak arguments, to connect your apparently innocent questions to the motives that may lie behind them, and to produce well-founded replies that make his case stronger. On top of this, tweens are on full alert to detect the merest hint of "babyish" treatment; they’re on constant guard to protect their burgeoning self-respect.

What’s behind her rebellious outbursts isn’t so much anger or hatred as feeling insulted and disrespected — your tween is afraid that you don’t see her maturing, and she wants to be treated with due regard for her new strengths. When she challenges or rebels, she’s also declaring a clear boundary between the two of you; your tween is daring to be different, which takes courage. Here’s how to keep things cool:

  • Don’t take it personally. Try to see the issue from her perspective and appreciate the courage, growing self-knowledge, and confidence behind her combative exterior. Keep things in perspective, and stay calm—you’re the grown-up.

  • Respect her developing reasoning skills. By this age, she deserves to have her reasons and ideas judged fairly, be told why the rules are important in a way she can genuinely understand, and be allowed to challenge your arguments if they seem weak to her.

  • Ask yourself if you need to win every time. Try to understand and, if necessary, compromise if your child has a point so you can both get some of what you want. If you force your way too often, you may lose your authority rather than boost it.

  • If he’d like more freedom, but you think he’s not ready, make sure he gets extra privileges in other areas to recognize his growing sense of maturity.  
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