How to: Raising a Strong-Willed Teenager Without Losing Your Mind
Remember the first time your child argued with you? It was probably a cute little back-and-forth, and you couldn’t help but be proud of their developing communication skills. Fast forward a few years, and those arguments may have morphed into hair-pulling frustrations. Dealing with a strong-willed teenager isn’t a walk in the park. Parenting during these tumultuous years can feel like an uphill battle. Communication gets tricky, arguments flare up, and maintaining a positive connection can seem impossible.
However, teenage arguments are a normal part of growing up. Your child is developing their own sense of self and identity, and they’re testing the boundaries. They’re also learning how to communicate their needs and wants in a more assertive way.
Here are a few simple strategies you can use to communicate more effectively with your teen and reduce the number of arguments you have:
- Stay Calm and Collected
It can be difficult to stay calm when your teenager is arguing with you, but it’s important to remember that if you get upset, it will only make the situation worse. Remember, your actions influence your child’s behavior and responses. When you feel your emotions rising, it’s best to step away, take a deep breath, and try to see things from your teenager’s perspective.
- Listen Actively and Communicate Calmly
When your teenager is talking, really listen to what they have to say. Don’t interrupt, and don’t start thinking about what you’re going to say next. Just listen. Once they’re finished, repeat back what you heard to make sure you understand their point of view.
- Validate Their Feelings
Let your teenager know that their feelings are valid, even if you don’t agree with them. It’s not about total agreement, but rather acknowledging their emotions and reassuring them that it’s okay to feel the way they do. While your teenager is entitled to their thoughts and feelings, make it clear that disrespect and violence are not acceptable forms of communication. Ignoring such behavior is not an option.
- Keep it Civil
In the heat of the moment, avoid personal attacks or insults at all costs. This will only make the argument worse and damage your relationship. Instead, focus on the issue at hand and avoid making generalizations about your teenager.
- Be a Positive Role Model
Show your teen how it’s done by modeling stellar communication skills yourself. Stay poised even when you’re seething, listen actively without cutting in, and be open to compromise. It’s a masterclass in effective communication.
- Admit it When You’re Wrong
As parents, we often assume we’ve got it all figured out. But sometimes, our teenagers have valid points. Approach discussions with an open mind. Admitting when you’re wrong doesn’t weaken your authority; it teaches them responsibility and humility.
- Embrace Compromise
Not every argument is going to be a win-win situation. Sometimes, you’ll need to be willing to compromise in order to reach a resolution. This doesn’t mean giving in to everything your teenager wants, but it does mean being willing to meet them halfway. However, there are some things that are not up for debate, such as safety and respect. Be crystal clear about your boundaries, yet willing to hear your teen out.
It’s also important to remember that you’re not alone. Many parents struggle to communicate with their teenagers. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor.
At LiveBeyond Counseling and Coaching, we specialize in supporting families like yours through the complex phases of Raising a Strong-Willed Teenager. Our professional parenting support and counseling services can help you both work through emotional strains, provide assistance with behavior and communication, and turn these challenges into opportunities for growth and connection.