Raising a child is never black and white. There are so many opinions, books, and studies done that will try to tell you how to best parent your child. There is a lot of good information out there, but at the same time, it can be a bit overwhelming. Many of my clients have children and have brought up parenting concerns to me. A common one is how to most effectively reason (or argue) with your teenager. This sounds like a strange idea, but the reality is that all parents need tools and strategies to maintain a positive relational dynamic with their teens even when there is conflict or disagreement.
How issues are handled at home will shape both your teenager’s mental health and the overall quality of your parent-child relationship. A family’s dynamic is strongly affected by the way arguments and family quarrels are handled. It may help you to know that for your teenager, starting to become argumentative is a healthy sign and shows that your child is maturing, becoming more independent, and developing their ability to express their opinion. When considering how you should respond to your child’s increased tendency to push-back or disagree, it’s helpful to first consider what their common dispute style is. Do they normally withdraw, attack, or just ignore you? Every family is different, so first consider your child’s normal habits and we can go from there.
Structure is usually helpful when raising kids, and with structure comes responsibility and boundaries. If you tend to be very strict or inflexible with your teen, they may be more likely to rebel. If this is the case for you, it might be helpful to determine which boundaries are the most important to you and which areas it would be appropriate to be more flexible. On the other hand, if you tend to be overly flexible or lenient with them, they may walk all over you. In this relational dynamic, it is important to implement clear boundaries so that your teen respects and acknowledges your authority as the parent.
Appreciating the positive moments with your teen almost always works better than punishing them for a negative attitude. Your teen will notice when you are pleased with their actions or decision making, and this will only benefit your relationship. Approaching what would normally become an argument as a thoughtful consideration of two different views, can also be a helpful strategy to use. But remember, there are no hard and fast rules here. The key is using your knowledge of your own child and putting that insight to use in a productive manner. Sometimes, however, this is easier said than done. This is where family therapy can be very helpful in establishing more effective ways of communicating with your teen.
When you walk into my office, you enter a safe space and a comfortable environment where you can begin addressing these often hard to talk about areas. I am here to listen, help you make sense of what you are feeling, and offer you the tools to help you overcome your current struggles. Please feel free to contact me by phone at (310)892-2572 or send an email to DrKellyMothner@gmail.com. I hope to hear from you soon!