By Chris Taylor, MFT, Author "Back to Basics"
As your child grows up, it is likely you will disagree on various things. It will start out as simple arguments, such as putting their coat on or putting toys away. As they reach adolescence, these arguments will grow to more serious topics, and if you aren’t careful, they will grow to more seriously sized arguments with worse repercussions.
Why do teens argue?
They argue because they want to push their limits, they aim to test their boundaries and they usually don’t like your answer. Ultimately, they argue because they want the power to make the decision, they want to be the authority. As adults, your role is to stand strong to their test and keep them safe. It is important to remember that an argument is a cooperative action: it takes two parties to successfully have.
Keep the Communication
Even arguments and conflict are forms of communication with your teen. Although not the most desirable form, they are attempting to communicate with you. The main thing you do not want to do is shut off that communication or ignore it. You want to always make sure they know you are listening to their argument, and you hear their side, even though you disagree with it.
5 Tips to Teach Respect
If an argument starts with your teen, try to conduct the situation in a way that teaches them respect and promotes healthy relationships. Here are 5 tips to avoid arguments, and teach teens respect:
1. If your teen is attempting to argue with you over a subject that you have previously already made a decision on, and they are aware of, all you have to do is restate your stance and end the argument. Do not let them think they have possibly changed your mind or answer.
2. Remember when an argument situation occurs, to remain a role model. Just as they do when they are children, teens are likely to imitate your actions later on. You want to present yourself in the situation in the best way possible, so if they were faced with a similar situation later, they would behave in a way in which you would be proud and find acceptable.
3. When you are stating your reason for disagreeing, make it about reason, and not about authority. For example, do not use the wise old saying “because I said so”, but instead explain the safety factors, your concerns, or why the request is inappropriate. When your teen attempts to counter-argue, they will try to argue those points rather than comeback with equally pointless statements such as “you are ruining my life”.
4. Use your disagreements as opportunities for communication, and brainstorming solutions that meet in the middle. If your teen can calmly communicate a reasonable solution within their limits, it should be considered and encouraged as they are entering adulthood and learning to think responsibly.
5. Make sure the rules are set early on, so you can avoid the argument altogether if possible. Managing expectations can sometimes prevent or lighten the disagreement because the rule has been previously stated.
Respect can never be demanded, it must be earned on both sides. The top way to earn respect is to treat others with the same respect. If you truly want your teen to behave with respect, even when arguing, treat them how you want to be treated.