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Dr. Liz Healthy Possibilities 


Teenager problems - Mother comforts her troubled teenage daughter Many parents find it difficult to teach their teenagers how to deal with disagreements and conflicts that arise. They find that when their children have a problem, they automatically try to solve it for them. This knee jerk reaction is natural, but frequently shuts down the conversation. 

When teens share their problems with their parents, they often just want to talk through the situation in order to arrive at the answer themselves. If a parent starts giving ways to fix the problem before the teenager asks for advice, the teen perceives that he/she has not been heard. Time and time again, I have heard teens in my office say things like, "My mother isn't listening to me. She just wants to give me her opinion. I just want her to listen!" Sharing parental experience and wisdom is natural, but it must be done in a way that will open the lines of communication rather than shut them down. 


Dealing With Conflicts

The following are tips for teens to effectively resolve conflicts:   Teenage girl rolling her eyes in front of angry parents


  • The quicker you deal with your upset the better. Dwelling on unresolved issues is the worst thing you can do because it continues to make you upset and anxious.  Talking about the situation with the person involved or with a close friend, family member, or mentor will help put things in better perspective.
  • Don't start the conversation by telling the person how wrong they are. People automatically try to defend themselves when they think you are blaming and judging them. It prevents the person from even hearing what you are saying and often leads to the situation getting more confrontational. Approach the situation by sharing how their actions made you feel. Using the word "I" instead of "you" will help you avoid falling into the common pitfall of blaming the other person. Say something like "I felt stupid and embarrassed after that comment, and I didn't appreciate it". Your feelings are unique to you. No one can argue that point. Now you are giving the person an opportunity to respond. Don't always expect an apology. They may apologize but they may also say that they meant to make you feel stupid. If they intentionally meant to hurt you, at least now they know that you are not a pushover and you know that this is someone you don't want to have around you.
  • Realize that you can agree to disagree. Everyone has a different point of view and you are not going to get everyone to agree with how you see things.
  • Walk away when things start to heat up. When tempers begin to flare, it's time to agree to disagree and cool off. Nothing gets accomplished when tempers get out of control. No one listens and people often say things just to hurt rather than to heal.
  • Once you remove yourself from the situation, it might be helpful to write things down. It may be better to collect your thoughts by writing a letter to the person who upset you. You don't have to send it, but it allows you to think about the situation in a different way. Often in the heat of the moment, you can't even think of the right things to say. All you know is that you are angry. Writing it down gives you time to gather your thoughts and say how you feel in a way that makes sense.
Healthy Links                             

The more you know about what your teen is facing, the better you will be prepared to help them. Start now by visiting these sites:

The National Crime Prevention Council has useful information on Conflict Resolution.

Teen Heath features articles and tips on Conflict and Negotiation.

 Dr. Liz can be contacted at
Dr. Liz Consulting
PO Box 5158 
Somerset, NJ  08875


Disclaimer: The articles in Healthy Possibilities are for general information only and are not medical advice.

Discuss all medical concerns and treatment options with your physician.