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Handling conflicts with your teen isn’t always easy



Problem-solving versus letting off steam, which is your approach?

teens, parents, conflict, resolution

No matter how much parents try to avoid and defuse conflict with their kids, arguments sometimes happen. The good news writes parenting coach Maggie Macaulay is that those battles can end up making teens and parents closer and can also teach kids skills they will apply in the outside world.

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Here are her tips for handling conflict with your teenager.

1. Take a problem-solving approach. This is not a win or lose situation. Frame the conflict as an effort to solve a problem together, enabling both you and your teen to look beyond the immediate disagreement. Studies show that teens who learn to address conflict as a problem to be solved, rather than a battle to be won or lost, tend to be happier later in life and have better relationships.

2. Make space. Take a breather before responding. Between your teen's provocation and your first response, there's a space that you can enlarge and inhabit. Use the time to get yourself centered, calm, and directed toward that problem-solving effort. If you allow the space to be too small, you are more likely to be reactive and tense, determined to win or else hastening to cave in to opposition. If you're in a rush to respond, you lose an opportunity to create understanding and open up to solutions.

3. Be humble enough to backtrack. Rethink the issue to see if you created the right solution. We all make mistakes. As a human being, there's a chance you'll fail to enlarge that initial space and will react in the heat of the moment. Catch yourself quickly, admit your fault, and apologize. Then restart the discussion from the beginning. If both you and your teen grow heated, don't give up. Ask for a timeout to calm down, and then try again.

It takes persistence, patience, and willingness to look at a variety of options to find a solution. But by practicing these skills, you'll maintain a healthy parent-child relationship, and your teen will learn and grow.



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