Conflict between you and your teen should not come as a surprise. This is the age where your teen will begin embracing her independent thinking, leadership and self-esteem. It's important, however, that you continue to love, support and guide her along the way, so that she can grow into an upstanding, successful adult.
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Positive Parenting of Teens, a curriculum developed by the University of Minnesota, indicates that conflict in families occur when one member feels that his values, beliefs, way of life and territory are threatened. Other causes of conflict include when someone is told how he needs to do something and when communication breaks down. You can sometimes use conflict as an opportunity to help your teen learn responsibility, according to HealthyChildren.org.
Teens experience a natural desire to develop an identity outside of the parents’ concerned supervision. It’s important for you to be there so your teen feels comfortable talking about difficult topics. Independence is important for your teen, but first she needs to gain the confidence needed, according to HealthyChildren.org. Be there for your teen and encourage her independence, while still continuing to monitor her safety.
Your teen has had about 12 or 13 years to develop his and her ideas. The first people she’ll express these thoughts to are you, her parents. According to an article published by the University of Minnesota, “Now he has the maturity and thinking skills to come up with some of the answers himself. Remember, it is natural for a teen to question a parent’s authority. You don’t have to be in agreement all the time.” In fact, it’s likely that if you seem willing to hear your teen out, she will become an adult who will understand the importance of listening and negotiating ideas.
One of the most challenging conflicts you’ll encounter is rule-breaking. Your teen may come home after curfew, skip chores or blatantly ignore scheduled commitments like homework. It’s easy for you to easily get trapped into negotiating the rules as a way to "buy off" good behavior. If anything, this could lead to even more conflict as your teen continues to push limits and overstep boundaries. One of the best ways to contain conflict is by being consistent with your teen. You need to have good reasons for rules, based on facts, principles, fairness and kindness. Some patience will help as well. Then, there will be time when it's natural to allow your teen to learn from trial and error, notes HealthyChildren.org.
What to Do
When a teen begins challenging your rules and ideas, it’s up to you, the parent, to stay in control of the situation. Part of staying in control is staying calm and keeping the lines of communication open. You can join support groups online, ask your child's school counselor for suggestions and get talking tips from other authorities who have studied teens, their behaviors and the actions that kept them safe.