The war between parents and teens: How to call for a truce

Raising a teenager doesn’t have to be a constant battle.  Kids don’t enjoy fighting with their parents, but even the best-behaved teens can flare up and lash out at the ‘rents from time to time, and being understanding doesn’t mean you have to tolerate disrespect and dangerous behavior. Keep your temper and manage the occasional (or frequent) explosions by following this advice:

  • Accept that conflict is natural. You don’t always get along with your co-workers, your spouse, or your own parents, so you’ll naturally have a certain amount of conflict with your children (at any age). Don’t expect them to adhere to an unrealistic model of “obedient” behavior.
  • Show that you’re listening. Teens want your understanding and respect even if they disagree with you. Make an effort to really hear what they’re trying to tell you. If they feel they’ve gotten an honest hearing, they’ll more readily accept a decision they don’t like.
  • Adopt some rules of engagement. Some types of behavior when arguing should be off limits. You and your teen should agree to hear each other out without interrupting, for instance. Cursing and shouting should be forbidden, violent behavior can’t be tolerated, or and so forth.
  • Avoid negative labels. Never call your teen lazy, stupid, irresponsible, etc. Focus on his or her behavior and why its a problem. Don’t criticize his or her personality.
  • Emphasize your love. The rules you set should be designed for your child’s safety, not to implement military style discipline on your family. When children see that your goal is to keep them safe, they’ll understand where you are coming from. You’ll be able to discuss the issue more rationally.
  • Remember what your teen is going through. The teenage years are when kids start to develop their won sense of independent identity. They’re testing themselves – and you – by trying different attitudes and behaviors on for size. Show a little tolerance, as long as your child expresses reasonably good judgement and knows that you’re trying to keep him or her safe and on the right path.
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