Fighting with your teenage daughter isn't necessarily a bad thing. When you argue fairly, you help equip her with emotional survival skills and the confidence to structure her arguments reasonably instead of as emotional attacks, according to Joanne Stern, Ph.D., author of "Parenting Is a Contact Sport: 8 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Kids for Life," as quoted in "Good Housekeeping." That being said, there are times when the hormone-driven fireworks of the teenage years can be stressful. Learn how to stop the fights with your 15-year-old and regain peace in your home.
Listen to her. If recent conversations have quickly devolved into fights, set out to stay calm and resist her efforts to deliberately push your buttons. Fights can begin because a parent is trying to convey information while the teen is struggling for control. If you have different goals in the conversation, it's not going to go well. By listening to your teen's words and paying attention to her body language, you may be able to avoid an argument. Plus, role-modeling good behavior shows your teen how to deal with arguments.
Avoid taking the bait. If you stop arguing and become quiet and thoughtful, it may infuriate your teen even more. Your daughter may want to get a rise out of you by saying rude things -- ignore it, advises Robert Taibbi, licensed clinical social worker, writing for Psychology Today. If the argument gets out of control, both of you will regret the emotional damage. When emotions become the issue instead of whatever caused the disagreement, you need to drop into listening mode so the emotional heat can cool down. Remember that teens are still trying to figure out who they are and want to feel more in control of their lives. Your daughter knows that she can't win. Letting her have her way isn't giving in; after all, you still set the curfew, pay the bills and send her to school.
Pay attention to the subtext. It's possible a teen has picked a fight because she's in a bad mood. It's also possible that there's a deeper issue that your daughter is having trouble dealing with. It could be that she's waiting for you to magically know what that problem is so you can help her fix it, or that she just doesn't know how to approach an issue that has her scared. If your daughter is suddenly acting out of character, that could be a clue that there's a bigger issue to deal with than curfew or picking up her room.
Revisit the conversation. Sometime later that day or the next day, sit down and talk to your 15-year-old about the disagreement. Try and find out why she got so upset -- was it something you said, a bad day at school, something she misinterpreted? Discuss ways to have calmer conversations in the future. You may need to agree to take some time to cool down mid-conversation next time and then return to talking after a break or work on some breathing exercises so you can both calm yourselves.
- If an argument has turned into a power struggle, take a break. You both need to walk away and cool down.
- Role-model good behavior. If your daughter sees you and your spouse or next-door neighbor screaming at each other, she'll learn to yell instead of converse when problems come up.
- If your teenage daughter is showing extreme changes in behavior, it may be time to seek professional help. She could be struggling with other issues, like depression or a substance abuse problem.
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