What Do I Do With a Grumpy Teen?

Dealing With a Bad Attitude

“Help! My teen is moody. She has a bad attitude. What do I do?”

I love my oldest child, Jacquelyn, more than air itself. She is bright, funny, loving, and compassionate. But on rare occasions when she was a teenager, she could be grumpy, especially in the morning before breakfast. What do you do when your teen is moody, grumpy, angry, or just in a low state of mind? Nag her out of it? I think not.

So often I have heard parents gripe endlessly about their teen’s “bad attitude” to the point that I was sick of hearing it. I can only imagine how it made the teen feel.

As parents, we are in so much control of our kids’ frames of mind. We don’t really even realize it, but it’s true. Like a rudder on a boat, our own attitude can absolutely steer the attitude of others around us, including our teenagers. It is only natural if they are being nagged about their attitude all the time, then their attitude will only become worse. It’s a vicious cycle that has to be broken, and as their parent, you are just the person to do it.

How do you deal with a bad attitude?

  1. Use words of encouragement. Whatever you do, don’t nag! This will only make things worse and push your son or daughter away from you. If your teen is unhappy, you do not want to put a further strain on him by nagging. Be sure your words are kind, well-chosen, and spoken in a loving tone.
  1. Be sympathetic. Remember, we adults get unhappy about things from time to time, and we can expect no less from our teens. They are human. They have ups and downs, and sometimes they just need someone to be patient with them. Sometimes they need to be either left alone for a bit to work things out, or allowed to talk or vent about something that upset them. Just listen and watch for the signs of willingness to open up.
  1. Give them some time and space. They will eventually open up to you about what is bothering them if you allow them some latitude. Depending on whether your teen is introverted or extroverted (and it is very important to know where they fall on that spectrum) he or she may need extra time to work out an issue. Be patient! I cannot overstate this.
  1. Remember, this too shall pass. Especially if you let it. Being reminded all the time of a bad attitude can do nothing more than prolong the bad attitude. Keep your judgments to yourself and allow the anger or “attitude” to run its course.

In short, I have found the best way to deal with a grumpy teenager is to love her out of it. You can do little things that can help. Take him to a restaurant he enjoys or prepare a meal he really likes. Feeding someone is a good way to demonstrate your love.

I had a friend years ago who gave people “happies.” She would just randomly give people little fun, inexpensive gifts and say, “Here. You need a Happy.” I have done that with my kids, and it works. You get an instant smile. I know it sounds like bribery, but who doesn’t enjoy a little pick-me-up now and then? Besides, it’s good for your teen to know you thought about her.

Remember, the theme of this blog is to enjoy those teen years, both for you as a parent, and certainly for your teen. The happier you both are now, the more likely you are to create wonderful memories together.

By the way, in the feature photo above, Jacquelyn was being her usual, funny self, and posing for Mom to take a fun picture. She was into silly hats on that trip.

Disney trip 2009 037 - Copy

What about you? Do you have an experience of your own with a moody or unhappy teen you would like to share? If so, then please scroll down and leave a comment in the section below. I would love to hear about how you solved this problem, or if you are still dealing with it.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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