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How to Avoid Power Struggles With Your Teen

How to Avoid Power Struggles With Your Teen

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As the teen years set in, conflicts and arguments tend to increase.

Among the most challenging issues are “power struggles” – that is, disagreements around roles, responsibilities, and restrictions in the parent-child relationship.

The first thing to know is this is a completely normal part of development.

The second is that it’s okay to feel worried or overwhelmed when this shift starts. It can seem very sudden! Don’t worry: Your relationship with your teen changes, but you won’t always be in turmoil.

How Do “Power Struggles” Affect Teen Development?

Although any argument with a teen isn’t pleasant, it’s important not to think of them as “power struggles.” That framing puts you in a mindset where someone has to win and someone has to lose. Teens think that way sometimes, but it’s up to you to represent ways of approaching conflict where disagreements are resolved amicably.

So, what is the secret – why are teens so apt to test their boundaries this way at this age?

The answer is surprising: It’s a vital part of teens clarifying their own identity.

To find their own way and develop into mature, balanced adults, teens undergo a long process of deciding “who they are.” This continues far into the twenties before an adult identity crystallizes – and neurological development goes on all the while, too.

Part of that is setting boundaries – and that often means making known their opinions about what they like and don’t like. This leads to clashes with parents, since they are the ones most likely to enforce rules about what teens can and can’t do.

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How to Avoid Power Struggles With Your Teen

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