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Stop Fighting With Your Teen

Slammed doors and screeching arguments can be facts of life with a teen in your household. Here, how to defuse the fireworks.

Rule 3: Don't Escalate the Drama continued...

Many kids will signal that they're ready to reconnect by emerging from their rooms to get something to eat from the kitchen or grab a magazine. Take that opportunity to say something like, "Are you OK? Want to go out and get some ice cream? Or can I have a hug?"

And while you're waiting for that to happen, remind yourself that fighting - provided it's done right - is a good thing. "People who are good at solving conflicts are better leaders, parents, and partners," says Falcone. "And by fighting fairly with our kids, we're preserving - and even enhancing - the most powerful parenting tool we have at our disposal: our relationship with them."

Avoid These Triggers

Fighting fair means steering clear of tactics that act like a match to gasoline. Here, advice from our experts:

  1. Stick to one issue at a time. Avoid the "kitchen sink" arguments that start with one thing and end up encompassing your kid's every transgression over the past two years.
  2. Nix "forever" words: "You always throw your towels on the bathroom floor"; "You never listen to me when I talk to you."
  3. Avoid comparisons like "Your brother never had any trouble getting home on time."
  4. Skip these proven kid-enraging phrases:
  • "End of conversation."
  • "When I was your age..."
  • "Just do it, OK?"
  • "Here we go again with this."
  • "I cannot believe you just said that."
  • "My mother would have slapped me in the face if I'd talked to her that way."
  • "I've had it with you."

Originally published on September  27, 2010

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