Resolving or avoiding arguments

Sometimes it can feel like argument after argument and the smallest things become the most annoying.  Read on for some helpful ways to diffuse tension in your household.  Understanding  teenage brain  is a great way to recognise why behaviours might appear.

1. Know and understand yourself. What are your triggers?

It is important to know what your triggers in order to figure out if your teenager has done something wrong or if you are over reacting.

When your child does something that makes you feel uncomfortable, uncertain or unsure consider what and why this feelings are coming up. You may have your own unresolved issues which you unknowingly project onto them. It’s important to make time for yourself every now and then, even if it just means carving out five minutes here or there each day when you can check in with how you feel. If you’re having a particularly bad day be open and honest with them and ask for their support. This will build a relationship that encourages them to do the same.

2. Have a conversation. Learn to talk about difficult things and take turns listening and talking.

This is a great way to improve your relationship and communication. The goal of this is to have a conversation and take turns listening and talking. It’s not like a debate – you want to give the other person space to speak and offer thoughtful responses. You get an opportunity to hear their perspectives, learn new things about yourself from what they say. You might even realise that you’re wrong about something! (And that’s totally okay!). Talking about difficult things can actually be really liberating, as long as you have the right support in place.

3. Gently interrupt the cycle of argument by suggesting to take a break. This could be by saying something like “let’s take a break” or “I think we should take a break” or “could we agree on a time-out?”

Whilst a screaming match with your child is never recommended there are times when it might happen. If things get heated, one of the most difficult things to do is to interrupt the cycle and suggest taking a break. This is because it’s hard for someone in the throes of frustration to realise that their emotions are getting in the way of their ability to reason. In order for this interruption technique to work, you have to be able to recognise when you or them are becoming too frustrated or worked up. Suggest taking some time out and revisiting the issue later when you are both calmer.

4. Agree on what it means when one person says, “I’m sorry.” Is it an automatic sign of forgiveness or is there more work involved?

When someone says “I’m sorry” it can mean many things. Forgiveness is not always automatic when one person says “I’m sorry.” It is important to think about the context of the situation. When someone is apologising for something they did, then forgiveness may be automatic and there are certain other situations that are more complicated.

Sometimes people say they are sorry to show understanding or empathy. Other times, people say they are sorry to take responsibility for a wrong decision or bad timing. There are even occasions where people say they’re sorry and don’t mean it at all – just to get out of an uncomfortable situation. Discuss with your teenager what you expect to go alongside the i’m sorry, should there be a behaviour change or an explination of why they are sorry. Ensure that you also do the same when there’s occasions in which you are wrong.

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