Conflict – a Way to Connect

Uggghhh! Another conflict with your teen. This is
on-going and there never seems to be a dull moment. “Why is this child fighting with me again?’ you ask.

So, what happens when you are fighting with someone – you are engaged with them fully, with every ounce of your being and with full intensity of emotion. Yes, anger, frustration or irritation are not the most positive of emotions and getting your attention in this way is not the most useful. But, we have all heard “Negative attention is better than no attention at all.”

Fighting with parents is a push-pull exercise. The teen is pushing away from you but at the same time pulling you into his/her fight and keeping you engaged. Instead of engaging next time, try reflecting what they might be feeling and connect at this level, with empathy. Don’t listen to your teen’s words, listen to your teen’s feelings. It’s not easy but practice makes it better.

Example:
Teen comes in the house after school, slams the door and yells, “My teacher is so stupid!! He gave us so much homework that now I can’t watch the movie that I wanted to tonight!”

A reactive parent might react with “Don’t slam the door!” or “Don’t raise your voice in here!” or “Your teacher is not stupid. S/he is a very nice person.”
All this response will do is fuel the fire and a fight will begin.

INSTEAD:
Parent reflects feeling – “Boy it sounds like you had a rough day and that you’re up for an even rougher evening! I bet you’re really disappointed that you can’t watch that movie tonight.”

Your teen may still be angry but s/he will feel connected by your ability to understand his/her feelings.

Try it and let me know how it goes.

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