Why is it that our children suddenly become experts on respect when they become teenagers? I'm not saying they become experts in treating others with respect. No, I am saying they become experts in knowing when they are not being treated with respect by adults.
How do we know this? It's easy. Our kids tell us by saying things like "this is stupid" or "I don't care" in a nasty tone of voice. Or they yell at or hit their younger siblings. Sometimes we get sucked into arguments and fighting with our teens by responding, "Don't you use that tone with me young lady" or "You listen up buster" or how about "Don't you dare do that again." Then things go downhill from there.
As children grow up and their brains change from concrete thinking (thinking in absolute terms or black and white thinking) to more abstract thinking (developing the ability to reason and understand exceptions to rules), they develop a one-way inward respect monitor. It's a one-way monitor because it only goes off when they feel disrespected, not when they are being disrespectful. The development of this monitor usually occurs around the same time kids bodies start to change and their moods start to change as well. They tend to be more sensitive and take things more personally than they would have when they were younger. Sometimes they get into a bad mood and say and do mean things. How should we handle this? Should we just attribute it to them being a teenager and accept it? Should we attack it and stomp out the bad behavior before it becomes worse? Either of these extremes tends not to work in the long run.
Rather than ignoring or trying to control our teens behaviors, we can focus on controlling our own behaviors.