Berry and Reynolds Psychology

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FOR CHILDREN, ADOLESCENTS, ADULTS AND THEIR FAMILIES

Tips to avoid power struggles with your teenager

Finding yourself gridlocked in a power struggle with your teenager is a very familiar scenario for many parents. Although it can seem a difficult balance to strike, it is possible to have clear expectations and boundaries while maintaining a strong relationship through these emotional adolescent years.  

Here are some tips to assist with these tricky conversations:

1. Let go of being right and show understanding before enforcing the rules. It is important to show you see their perspective before asserting yours.  For example, ‘I can see how much you don’t want to go. I get that it is boring for you. We have however agreed to do this as a family’.

2.    Don’t go into deep discussion while either of you are still in the height of anger.  Wait until emotions have settled then broach the subject by finding out more and coming from a place of concern. 

3.    Give your teenager space to retreat before approaching them to discuss your concerns. Approaching them does not need to mean confrontation!

4.    Speak to them openly using a tone that you would use with an adult. Teens hate nothing more than feeling condescended. They need to sense your respect even when you are setting a clear limit.

5.    Negotiation is the key to steering clear of a power struggle. Discussing their ideas and then coming to a compromise is necessary to maintain the relationship. Be willing to yield in order for the rules to be respected. 

6.    Be clear and concise about what you expect without elaborating on the rule. Set the boundary, expect it to be met, check in that your child understands it. For example, ‘go straight to her house and don’t go anywhere else. Is that clear?’ 

7.    Agree on consequences for a possible scenario before that scenario arises to avoid the struggle. 

8.    Have fun!! Make sure there are times everyday when your interactions stay light and fun. Music or physical activity are ideal tools to help you bond. It’s normal for teenagers to appear withdrawn or moody but they need you more than ever to keep involved in their life.

9.    Take an interest in their interests, allowing them to play the expert and you the learner.

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