Respond Vs. React

One way to show teens how to respect others is to model how to respond instead of how to react in conflict situations.

Example:  Julie is angry that her parents took away her cell phone for the weekend. She reacts by yelling, slamming her door, and screaming the famous line, “I hate you!” at them.

Reaction:  Parent reacts by yelling, “Watch your tone!” and “Don’t you make me come in there and give you something to be upset about!” and “If you slam that door one more time, I’m going to take it off the hinges and then a cell phone will be the least of your worries!”


  1. Breathe.
  2. Remind yourself that you are the adult and they are the child.
  3. Give them some time (i.e. 5 minutes) to calm down.
  4. Knock on the door before entering.
  5. Respond to the emotion/situation and not the reaction to you: “I know that you are angry at our decision right now, but I need you to respect me as we talk.”
  6. Ask for clarification with choices: “Are you angry because you had your cell phone taken away for the weekend or because you can’t text your friends/check Instagram this weekend?” (They will probably say both).
  7. Ask for more clarification: “What else are you angry about?”
  8. Allow the conversation as long as respect is being shown. (If at any time during the conversation, disrespect consistently occurs, stop the conversation and say, “We need to stop this conversation until you are able to respond to me respectfully. I will come back in ____ minutes.”)
  9.  Hold to the punishment, but give input for future situations: “In the future, if you respect our rules about your cell phone, you will not have this type of consequence.”
  10. If they showed respect during the majority of the conversation, thank them: “Thank you for showing me respect as we talked through this. I appreciate your maturity.”