Making Peace With Teens in the Boundary-Testing Years

At a certain point, teens are likely to butt heads with adults in their lives on virtually everything. By consistently handling these situations in a mature, responsible, and level-headed fashion, you can persevere - while modeling conflict resolution skills they'll need in the future.

Here's how to start:

Reassess Those Boundaries

Battles over boundaries often mean that a teen has outgrown them in one way or another. They may be ready for new privileges, but those often come with new responsibilities. One of the best ways to clarify boundaries is to go over them as a family and write them down.

You can start with your teen's responsibilities, like chores, and the consequences for not following them - but you should also make clear exactly what privileges flow from honoring those responsibilities.

Take an Interest in Your Teen's Goals

Teens love to ask “why,” especially when it comes to the rules. While this can be distressing, it's the right time for you to open up and discuss why rules are important - and what difference they make in the long run.

Adults know good grades are valuable, for example, but how can you connect that to your teen's personal interests and desires for the future? Whenever possible, try to align rules, responsibilities, and privileges with what your teen considers aspirational in life.

Don't Make It About You!

Remember: Your teen still cares about you, even if things seem prickly. When egos get involved (yours or theirs!) the situation can become heated fast. Seeming arbitrary, especially by yelling or shouting, undermines trust and can close lines of communication in one incident. Not everything a teen does or says will seem reasonable, but you should always strive to be.

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WinGate Therapy
WinGate Therapy

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