When it comes to parenting a teen, arguments are inevitable. Sometimes, these arguments become heated and hurtful, but they can also be constructive. When you don’t see eye-to-eye with your teen, you have a valuable opportunity to teach her how to practice emotional control and communicate with respect. Your response can reinforce the fact that disagreements are part of a healthy relationship and can be a step toward deeper trust and understanding.
While your teen learns a lot about healthy ways to argue and resolve conflict through her experiences with you, she also learns by watching you. In order to have a constructive argument with your teen, or anyone else, try using the following ideas and language:
- Validate the other’s point of view. I see what you are saying. I’d like to share my perspective.
- Focus on how you feel and avoid blaming. I feel very frustrated when chores around the house are unfinished.
- Have an open mind. Help me understand what is going on for you.
- Ask constructive questions. Are you open to another possibility?
- Keep it logical. I don’t agree because……
- Agree to disagree. We have different points of view. That’s ok.
- Keep it in the present. Right now, I’m feeling…
- Know when to walk away. I think we are talking in circles. I am getting angrier so I’m going to step away and calm down. We can continue this conversation later.
- Request a change, don’t demand one. I’d like to request that you….
- Move on. When the argument ends, make any agreements clear and move on. Allow the disagreement to be part of the past and don’t bring it up again, especially in future arguments.
With teens, it’s also important to keep it simple. If you get into overexplaining, your teen will tune out. Stay mindful of what you argue about. As the saying goes, choose your battles wisely.