I get emails from parents every week asking me “Roy, how do I get my teen to show me more respect?” I suspect it’s a question all of us ask.

Here are three actions you can take to get your teen to show you more respect.

Define Respect

Too often we are asking young people for something, that even we, if pressed couldn’t describe in any detail. If you can’t define respect in one sentence, chances are you’re teen is unclear as well. 

Take a moment, and answer these questions:
What was my parents definition of respect?

What were the expectations for me in showing respect to my parents or other adults?

This is important because the answer to these two question most likely influences your expectations for your teen.

What would respect from my teen look like?

What would respect from my teen sound like?

What would they do and not do to show me more respect?

Now that you know what you mean, the next step is

Communicate Your Definition

Sit your teen down and describe for them what you expect from them, what more respect from them would look like and sound like. Keep it brief—a few minutes. Research shows that most parents speak 50% than we should when communicating to our children.

Ask them if they understand and ask them to communicate back to you what they heard. You can also ask “What makes it hard for you to show me respect?” But make sure you’re willing to listen, truly listen to the answer.


Model Respect

Often teens will tell me in session, “Man Roy, my mom is always asking me to show her more respect, but she don’t show me respect! She’s always yelling, talking down to me. I just talk to her like she’s talkin’ to me.” Now I’m not saying this young man is right, but it does illustrate how closely teens pay attention.

More often I’ll hear teens say “My parents demand more respect from me, but you should hear the way they talk to each other. Trust me I don’t talk to them any worse than they talk to each other. They allow disrespect, and sometimes verbal abuse in their relationship but there’s a different standard for me.”

Question: What’s one action I can take today to model respect for my teen?