Sometimes, living with a teenager can feel a lot like living with a professional lawyer. Instead of comfortable conversations, you might find yourself in constant debate as your son provides a strong opposing argument every time you make a statement or voice an opinion. While it's tempting to fight fire with fire, you probably know that losing your temper and fighting back typically don't work. Instead, try to understand your teen's reasoning and thought process.
Take a break from your son before you lose your temper. It's easy to get upset when your teen is hurling accusations or whining about your parenting, but getting angry and raising your voice will likely only escalate the problem. Instead, try saying something like, "I feel like we could talk better if we cooled of for a few minutes. Let's meet back in an hour." This way, you have time to gather your thoughts and approach the situation calmly.
Give your teen the floor to explain his side of the argument, suggests social worker Robert Taibbi in an April 2012 article for the Psychology Today website. Chances are that even if you gave your teen time to calm down, he still has plenty of ammunition and might even get upset again. Just listen carefully and quietly to his argument -- and avoid interjecting your opinion or trying to plead your case. Instead, let him say his piece before you start talking so he feels heard.
Let him know that you heard him. For example, if you're arguing over his curfew and he launches a tirade about how his friends are getting to stay out late, he might actually be pushing for more independence. Instead of a flat-out "No," try, "It sounds like you wish you had a little more say in the rules around here. What do you think is a fair curfew?" This starts a discussion -- not a fight -- so you can talk it out.
Talk about solutions with which you both can live. Your teen is on the cusp of adulthood, making it an excellent time to create consequences that teach him the importance of trust, making good decisions and dealing with the outcomes. Instead of simply giving into his demands, try setting a later curfew with conditions. For example, tell him if he comes in late, his curfew resets to the original time, no questions asked. When you compromise, you both get what you want -- within reason.
Choose your battles carefully. Your teen is probably ready for a fight any time you want to engage in one, which means that you could spend a lot of time arguing with your son. Instead, know what's important -- like morals, responsibilities and schoolwork -- and what you can let slide, such changes to his personal appearance or his taste in music. This way, you can maintain peace at home -- and your teen will be more likely to listen to what you have to say when it really counts such as when a situation involves his safety or future.
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