It seems inevitable to have frustration and conflict between parents and teenagers. Developmentally, adults and adolescents are at very different places. Parents may find better communication skills and self-monitoring successful strategies to reduce feelings of anger and conflict. You will find below tips to reduce conflict between parents and teenagers.
Reducing Conflict Begins With Communication
Susan Stern writes in “Anger Management in Parent-Adolescent Conflict” [The American Journal of Family Therapy, 1999] that communication skills are a good place to begin in resolving feelings of parental frustration with teenagers.
Essential communications skills include:
- Taking time to set up a one on one setting with minimum distractions for communication.
- Parents need to reflect teenager statements to show understanding such as, “I hear you saying you’re mad about the change in your curfew.”
- Use “I” statements when talking about feelings about the conflicting situation.
- Parents asking teenagers to repeat the parents statements to show understanding.
Stern takes communication one step further, suggesting frustrated parents engage in conflict resolution efforts. Many parents may not have an understanding of conflict resolution and why it is important to teenagers’ development. The importance is found in the lessons learned by participating in conflict resolution. Teenagers who learn conflict resolution skills early tend to apply them toward life.
Parents may need to take a time out for frustration limits to drop as well. Parents need to model self-care and that includes taking time to allow anger to diffuse before attempting to resolve issues. This will definitely help reduce conflict between parents and teenagers.
Reducing Frustration With Conflict Resolution
Conflict resolution is a process in which the goal is to have both sides walk away satisfied the issue has been addressed and fairly served. It is the idea of a win-win outcome. And, while the goal is an outcome that pleases both parties, parents need to remember they are the parents and some items are non-negotiable.
To effectively engage in conflict resolution parents and teenagers need to:
- Find a quiet place and convenient time for the discussion.
- Both parties need to state what they believe the conflict to be.
- Once the conflict is identified, the parties generate solutions to the conflict by brainstorming.
- The parties each express their preferred outcome respectfully.
- The parties each agree to a common solution, both giving up benefits and gaining benefits to meet the goal of resolution.
Frustrated parents of teenagers are often at a loss on how to best proceed. After initiating self-care and taking time to make certain feelings of anger are in check, the next step is communication. When possible, teenagers benefit from experiencing conflict resolution training from their parents; however, when the item of discussion is an absolute, parents must be parents and be the ultimate authority in the family.