Why Does My Teenager Not Listen To Me
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 31-03-2023

Why Does My Teenager Not Listen To Me


The teenage years are riddled with different challenges for both, the child and the parent. While young adolescents figure out their individuality, parents are often faced with the dilemma of letting their kids be themselves and continue disciplining them with sensitivity and tact. A common issue between parent and child relationships occurs when a teenager seems to grow defiant. By definition, defiant behavior is exhibited by a child’s refusing to hear and abide by instructions or inputs given by their parents. Your teenager may seem to ignore you and what you say. And even though they hear what you say to them, they often elect to do something different or nothing at all.

Teenage defiance can be understood in terms of a young child moving toward adulthood

During this phase, they try to express themselves in various ways. Sometimes, this way includes not doing what is told and instead trying out something different. This behavior translates as defiance for parents but is a method of practicing some independent behaviors by a teenager. Experts have suggested that rebelling during mid to late teens is an attempt of differentiating oneself. Thus, while your teenager may appear to do things more privately, or question authority, it is important to know that these acts are a manifestation of a new dimension in their growth. Nevertheless, such behavioral patterns can cause conflict between parents and their teenagers and prove to be a sensitive issue. However, knowing that this is a transition can help parents deal with defiant behavior well.

Defiance also represents a power struggle in some ways

Defying parents allows a teenager to feel like they are in control of their own life and can do as they like. Thus, choosing not to listen to their parent about returning home before curfew, or staying up past their bedtime, are some examples of teenagers exercising their sense of control.

An equally important facet of teenage defiance is the way parents deal with it. It is essential to understand that parental frustration or annoyance may make them feel the need to radically change parenting approaches. This can often be ineffective as it reinforces behaviors in teens. A better approach is to make certain changes to their parenting ways. Some possible strategies are listed below4,5:

  • Focus on more open communication with your child where both sides express their opinions
  • Involve your teenager in creating constructive solutions to defiant situations
  • Establish priorities and standards by focusing on what you deem more important in your relationship with your child.
  • Avoid regular confrontations, especially in public. Instead, try to discuss issues with your teenager in a more private setting.
  • Try to convey your expectations sincerely without making them sound like commands.

Dealing with defiant teenagers requires patience and consistent effort. Thus, parents can also seek professional guidance from mental health professionals to effectively navigate through tough teenage situations.

Get Started With a Licensed Therapist


Teen defiance-What is normal?. (2013, October 29). Retrieved from: https://www.fulsheartransition.com/teen-defiance-what-is-normal/

Pancare, R. (2017). What are the causes of defiant behaviour in teenagers?. Retrieved from: http://living.thebump.com/causes-defiant-behavior-teenagers-7013.html

Devine, M. (2017). How to talk to teens: 3 ways to get your teen to listen. Retrieved from: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-talk-to-teens-3-ways-to-get-your-teen-to-listen/

Harpaz, B. (2010). Raising your teens through their defiant years. Retrieved from: https://www.today.com/parents/raising-teens-through-their-defiant-years-2D80555246

Butler, C. (2014, November, 2). 4 ways to handle teenage defiance and rebellion. Retrieved from: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/parenting/behavior/4-ways-to-handle-teenage-defiance-and-rebellion


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