If your mentee says something rude or inappropriate

Here are some great guidelines from the Raising Children website:
This website can give you many tips on teens that are useful, even though designed for parents they are useful for mentors as well. See the links further below if you want to explore.

Tips for communication

  • Stay calm. This is important if your teen reacts with ‘attitude’ to a discussion. Stop, take a deep breath, and continue calmly with what you wanted to say.
  • Use humour. A shared laugh can break a stalemate, bring a new perspective or lighten the tone of a conversation. Being lighthearted can also help take the heat out of a situation – but avoid mocking, ridiculing or being sarcastic.
  • Ignore your teen’s shrugs, raised eyes and bored looks if he’s generally behaving the way you’d like him to.
  • Sometimes teenagers are disrespectful without meaning to be rude. A useful response can be something like, ‘That comment came across as pretty offensive. Did you mean to behave rudely?’
  • Use descriptive praise with your teenager for positive communication. When you have a positive interaction, point this out to your child. This lets her know you’re aware of and value her opinions.

Tips for relationships

  • Be a role model. When you’re with your teen, try to speak and act the way you want your teen to speak and act towards you.

Things to avoid with teenage disrespect

Arguing rarely works for parents or teenagers. When we get angry, we can say things we don’t mean. A more effective approach is to give yourself some time to calm down.

Being defensive is very rarely useful. Try not to take things personally.

Even though you have more life experience than a teen, lecturing her about how to behave is likely to turn her off listening. If you want your teen to listen to you, you might need to spend time actively listening to her.

When to be concerned about teenage disrespect

If your child’s attitude towards you and your family doesn’t respond to any of the strategies suggested above, it might be a warning sign that there is a deeper problem.

You might also be worried if there are changes in your teen’s attitude or mood, if he withdraws from family, friends or usual activities, or if he runs away from home or stops going to school regularly.

If you’re concerned about your teen’s behaviour, you could

  • discuss the issue with your team leader, to work out ways of communicate the need for support
  • talk to other parents and find out what they do.


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