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How to Put a Stop to Backtalk, Door Slamming, and Other Teen Drama


The words drama and teenager seem to go hand-in-hand.  At one time or another, every teen goes through a period of defiance and push back towards their parents. These can be frustrating times, but there are many things you can do to put a stop to the backtalk and navigate through this challenging time.

Stay Calm When Your Teen is Defiant

Perhaps the best thing you can do when your teen is pushing back is to remain calm and in control. Of course, this can be really hard when they are slamming doors in your face or hurling insults.  Letting your anger spill out only pours gasoline on the fire, making the situation worse. Here are ways you can stay in control:

  • Practice breathing exercises before and during the argument
  • Note your teens’ behavior without taking things personally
  • Refrain from yelling at your teen
  • Ask to pause the discussion if you think it is getting too heated
  • Walk away from the situation if you feel yourself about to lose control

The less negativity that you can avoid injecting into the argument, the more you will be able to stay in control.

Hold Consistent Boundaries with Your Teen

Hold firm and consistent boundaries with your teen.  These could include:

  • Temporarily losing privileges such as computers, cell phone, or gaming devices.
  • Apologizing to siblings for their behavior.
  • Making amends, such as working to pay back anything that was broken or destroyed.

When you hold boundaries make sure that they are reasonable, and not over-the-top punishments exacerbate the problem. For instance, being grounded for a year isn’t a boundary that your teen will take seriously and will actively undermine.

Have Conversations with Your Teen

After you both have calmed down, make an effort to have conversations with your teen.  This helps you understand their perspective and even their motivations for being defiant. They also have the chance to understand you and where you’re coming from. By creating understanding, you can lay the groundwork for building a better relationship.

Use Positive Reinforcement

If you see your teen engaging in positive behaviors, use positive reinforcement to encourage them. A compliment or thank-you can go a long way. Just make sure that your comments are authentic, as teens can see through “fake” compliments. Or, develop a system for your teen to earn privileges.

Be United Regarding Teen Drama

When addressing teen drama, make sure that you and your partner are united when it comes to behavioral expectations and consequences.  Teens will try to “split” parents who are not on the same page when it comes to expectations.  This can cause even more problems as your teen will try to play off each of you in order to get their way.  You can avoid this trap by sitting down with your partner and developing a behavior plan.  If you are separated from your partner, try to make this communication happen if at all possible.

What if Nothing Works?

If it seems like you’ve tried everything but nothing is working, consider hiring professional help. This is where Caitlin Young, BCBA can help your teen and your family get back on track.  Caitlin is an expert in Behavior Therapy, a technique that utilizes positive and negative reinforcement to aid your child in learning new behaviors. She will also work with you as a parent to provide guidance and support as you learn new skills to address your teens’ behavior.  She will even come to your home to provide this support in a private and confidential setting.

An important part of being a teenager is learning how to become your own person and create an identity for yourself. However, when your teen becomes disruptive and disrespectful it can have a negative impact on your whole family. Using concepts such as holding consistent boundaries, communication, and not reacting can help. But if these methods don’t work, Caitlin can provide the professional support your family needs.


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