Changing Your Teen’s Attitude with One Word

You remember the adolescent years, right?  Everything just seemed to be awkward and difficult.  Friendships were strained.  Body limbs were disproportionate.  Voices were squeaky.

And often times attitudes reeked!

Probably no one teen was particularly to blame – it’s during that epoch of youthful developments that boundaries are being re-thought and their adulthood is creeping closer and closer.  Without keeping things in check, your teen could begin to make things a living nightmare for you.

Can I offer you the one word that will potentially halt the Bruce Banner transformation from taking place?


Not incredibly brillant.  Not especially complicated.  And yet transformative.

Systematically applying this one word to your relationship with your teen will result in trust.

Trust results in openness.

Openness creates a soft, pliable heart.

Don’t turn this into a microwave solution (if I spend one 30 minute time slot with my teen all the world’s problems will be solved).  Think of this more like a slow-cooker.  Cooking illustration doesn’t work?  Ok – this isn’t Nascar, this is long-haul trucking.  So, we should be incorporating time into life.  That means we get deliberate with events that already exist in your life: a quick trip to the grocery/hardware store together, a walk around the block, a few extra minutes after supper after everyone else has cleared out, a business trip where you can bring your teen.

To get the results you want to see your focus on time will in and of itself take time.  So slow down and be strategic about it:

  1. What are the three most pressing issues I know my teen is facing?  How can I encourage discussion in this areas where I am listening, not lecturing?
  2. How can I share some funny life situations regarding my teen challenges in a way that I am more vulnerable and less intimidating?
  3. Who are the role models my teen has?  How can I use that as a springboard to chat about things they may want to share with me?  (Do you even know who your teen’s role models are?)
  4. If I had the opportunity to communicate meaningful, loving, edifying words to my teen – what would I say?  That’s something you need to think through and be ready to share at a moment’s notice.
  5. At this point of your parenting think of yourself more as a coach than a critic.  If you personally had to be moved from A to B in an area of your life, how would you want someone to do it?  By criticizing and yelling?  No – you’d want that person to consider you, where you’re coming from and what’s going on in your head.

So – want to see that teen attitude do a 180?  Start by taking the time to think through questions 1-5, and then take the time to take time.  Remember – before you know it they will be gone :).

In what ways have you used your time with your teen to impact their attitude?  Use the comment box below to let me know…


Scott Foreman is the Executive Director of Word of Life Canada, a youth organization where he has ministered since 1999.  Every year Scott is blessed with opportunities to speak at youth retreats, conferences and evangelistic events.  You can read more about Scott’s ministry here.

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