by: Christina Botto
You may be surprised to learn that very few teenagers actually enjoy arguing with their parents.
It makes teens feel unimportant and misunderstood.
Some teens will walk away from an argument with a dismissive, “You just don’t understand,” while others stubbornly insist on getting their points across – and both parent and teen wind up in a heated argument.
Arguments drive people apart and you and your teen are no exception.
Why is it so easy to argue with a teenager?
Misinterpreted motives – Because of teen's lack of communication skills, their questions are easily perceived as criticism by parents - and we get defensive.
“Why are you separating the laundry? You make everything so complicated!”
How many of these “Questions” sent you off in the wrong direction? Did you even realize that this was supposed to be a question?
Desire to be independent - Teens want to be independent and have some input and control over their lives. They want to be able to make small decisions on their own, without the parent telling them how and when.
Curiosity - Teens are starting to get interested in life and what goes on around them. In their own awkward way, they are attempting to uncover the true reason for our actions. They form opinions and wonder if our way is the only way.
Single-minded - If your teen feels he is being controlled or pressured, he will either resort to ignoring you and your reasoning, or he will argue.
In fact, your teen could become so focused on getting his way or having his opinion heard, that nothing else will matter to him.
For instance, repeatedly asking your teen to do his homework could result in him not doing his homework at all - and your teen will not consider how this will affect his grades.
A few simple steps to avoid this type of stubborn opposition:
Give your teen responsibility
Instead of arguing with your teen about homework, monitor his grades. Your teen may do surprisingly well. If not, you have a basis to sit down with your teen and discuss a plan on how to improve their grades.
Allow your teen to make decisions on matters you know he can handle.
At the same time, make it clear that you are ready and available if he needs help. Involving your teen in decisions does not take away a parent's power. Rather, it shows your teen that you accept him as an individual and are ready to give him a chance to prove himself.
Assign tasks, but step back and let your teen handle the details.
There is a very good chance your teen will do the task differently than you would. For some parents it won’t be easy to let the teen try it a different way when you know what works, but allow your teen to experiment.
Either you and your teenager will find that there is another way to arrive at the same result, or your teen will have to admit (after several wasted hours) that your way is the right way after all.
Some tips to avoid getting into heated arguments:
Don't allow your teen to get loud - Your teen needs to learn that not everybody has to think alike and that it is possible to discuss matters peacefully – even if you don't share the same opinion.
You are in charge - Parents can end a conversation at any time and continue as soon as you both calmed down. Don't allow your teen to get rude.
Control your emotions - What your teen is saying may make absolutely no sense, lack any logic, or even be impossible. Don't let your emotions take over – stay calm, focused, and discuss facts.
Listen and ask questions - Restate what your teen is saying or asking to make sure you both are still on the same page.
Find out where his or her opinion is coming from. Once your teen feels that you are paying attention to what he or she is saying, whether you are validating it or not, they will no longer feel the need to argue in order to get their point across.
It also teaches your teen that he can indeed work with you through important life decisions.
You will be surprised how quickly you will see a difference in the way you and your teen interact.