Most families will have a conflict at one point or another. But if they are frequent and aren’t managed constructively, they can hurt your entire family. Here are a few ways to help you can manage family conflicts with your teen.
Common Causes of Family Conflict
Conflict can happen when family members, especially teenagers, have different views, needs, wants, or beliefs that clash. Sometimes it can occur when people misunderstand each other and jump to the wrong conclusion. Family conflict can also stem from life changes or events that occur, like:
- Separation or divorce
- Moving to a new place
- Learning to live with new step-parents
- The birth of a baby
- A young person becoming an adult
When ongoing conflict issues are not resolved, they can lead to more arguments and even resentment. It’s important to learn to address conflicts in the right way so you can help reduce them and the stress they can bring to your family.
Explain Calmly and Concretely
When conflicts arise, it can be hard to remain calm. Our impulse is to push the point that we are right and to win the argument, no matter what. When both parties stubbornly stick to their guns, it can be difficult to come to a resolution. Keep in mind the idea is to resolve the conflict, not win the argument.
If you or your teenager feel too angry to talk calmly, take a 10-minute break. This will allow you both to calm down and think about the point you want to make. Also, when working through the conflict, avoid general statements. Don’t tell them “You never follow my rules.” Instead, be concrete and explain how they don’t follow your rules and why that makes you upset.
Be Willing to Listen
Conflict can escalate when people are too angry to listen to each other, and misunderstandings fuel arguments. Make sure you actively listen to your teen and don’t interrupt while they’re speaking. Giving them that respect is important so they know you’re acknowledging their points (even if you don’t agree with them). When it’s your turn to talk, ask them to listen and give the same respect you have given them.
Negotiate and Work Together
When you both start to understand the views and feelings of others, you can begin to work out a solution together. If you can, try and compromise. It might be hard, but when you compromise, you demonstrate problem-solving skills your teen can use in future conflicts.
When you’ve come up with a solution, make sure there’s no confusion and that everyone understands. If necessary, write down a “contract” so you and your teen can stick to the solution you’ve decided.
If your teen continues to cause conflict in your home, it might be time to get some assistance. Teen therapy can help your teen understand where their anger might be stemming from and how to work through family conflict in a constructive way.
At Equity Associates, we are here to help your teen get started with online counseling. We are based in Ridgway, Colorado but can help those anywhere in the state. No matter what, we’re always here to support those who need us.
Click here for more information on ODD Therapy.