Boundaries with Teens: How Do I Maintain Respect?

Date: 07/06/2023

Title: How do I maintain boundaries and self respect with my confrontational teen?

00:00:00 Speaker 1
You. How do you maintain selfrespect and boundaries with your confrontational teenager?
Well, we're going to talk about that today on tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed
marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live
happier lives. I lead two organizations, teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 organization
Child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. All right, so let's jump
into today's question. All right, so lately my 14 year old has been screaming at me more and more
and giving me a lot of eye rolling and attitude. He even tried to engage me in a standoff and wouldn't
let me pass once. What is my best way to not react to him and hold boundaries around my personal
respect? I'm talking about not becoming his personal punching bag while he works out all the
stuff going on for him, I just feel like I'm walking on eggshells all the time and I can't take
anymore. Thank you for your question. I think

00:01:08 Speaker 1
a lot of parents can relate to this. Teenagers can be confrontational at times, and I'm not condoning
it. I'm just saying that it's a common thing that we as parents need to deal with. And I think the
first and foremost thing that we need to understand about this situation is it's not about in
the moment when the heat of the moment, what you do, it's before that. It's when there's less
confrontation, when there's some downtime. Are you making time to reach out and connect with
your son? That is something that he can relate to. So it's not talking about him leaving his socks
in the kitchen floor. It's not about him not taking out the trash or his homework. It's about
spending quality time with him that he enjoys and that he recognizes that you enjoy him as that
starts building up your equity, in a sense. So when you are in a confrontation and you're the
calm adult, because, again, he's not qualified to be the calm adult, one of you has to be the calm
adult or you're both screaming 14 year

00:02:07 Speaker 1
olds. One of you has to be calm. And when you are that calm, rational adult and he's staying in
the hallway, not letting you pass until you talk to him and you give him permission to go to the
party or whatever it is, you can say, look, I see you're upset. I'm starting to get upset too.
This conversation will not go anywhere if we're both yelling at each other. We both need to calm
down. Let's both take 15 minutes or 20 minutes or whatever that is. Let's regroup and hey, it's
04:00 p.m. Now at 420. I'll come find you and let's try to have a calm conversation about this.
If you're having a pretty good relationship where you guys are connecting and bonding outside
of confrontation, he's more open to this process. If you don't have that if you don't have that
connection, where he's feeling connected to you, close to you, where there's some trust there,
he's not going to care about anything you say. He's just going to fight to win, not knowing that
there can't be any winners. There will be

00:03:03 Speaker 1
no winners in an argument. There can be losers, but they can't be winners. So how do you get to
a point where you're not arguing, you're discussing, you're compromising, you're finding
a reasonable middle ground. That's where I think is important. Now, if you are trying to do this
and he's not responding and he's going, like you say, going through all the stuff that he's going
through, trying to figure himself out, maybe it's time for him to talk to a therapist. I don't
know, but it might help. Finding a therapist who focuses on kids and teens, understands that
mindset can connect with kids and teens, and then can also speak teenager and speak parent,
help sometimes be the bridge to help you guys find a middle ground. Anyways, that's our question
for today. Again. My name is Kent Toussaint with Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen Counseling.
If you have a question you like me to answer here on Tips on teens, we do it every Wednesday at noon.
You can email us at

00:04:00 Speaker 1
Thanks again. Have a great week, and I'll see you guys next Wednesday. Bye.

Discussing Not Arguing

If you feel like you’re having trouble maintaining boundaries with your confrontational teen then you’re not alone. Teenagers can be confrontational! The important thing to know is that it’s not about what you do in the heat of the moment. The time to address this kind of behavior is beforehand. If you’re connecting and bonding outside of times of conflict, your kid will likely be more open to the process of talking it out and coming to a solution. You need to get to the point where you’re “discussing,” not arguing, and we talk about it in this Tips on Teens:

“Lately my 14 year old has been screaming at me more and more and giving me a lot of eye rolling and attitude. He even tried to engage me in a standoff and wouldn’t let me pass once. What is the best way to not react to him and hold boundaries around my own personal respect?  I’m talking about not becoming his personal punching bag while he works out all this stuff going on for him. I just feel like I’m walking on eggshells all the time and I can’t take it anymore.”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.