Is it possible that fighting with your teen could actually be good for them? A recent study out of the University of Virginia says that arguments in the home can be a training ground for teens. Joseph P. Allen who headed the study, published the findings in the journal Child Development.
Parents often teach their teenagers about good morals, saying please and thank you and how to be a polite houseguest. However they often do not think to teach teens how to effectively argue—or have healthy confrontation. Instead, teens and parents stumble into both tense and passive aggressive arguments, as kids get older.
Knowing how to disagree politely and come to compromise is an important part of life that teens will need in the future with romantic partners, in the workplace and with friends.
The focus of Allen’s study was to see how teens and parents disagree and find a way to deal with disagreement in a calm way. Allen recruited and videotaped 157 13-year-olds while describing their biggest disagreement with their parents. The top four categories: school grades, house chores, money and friends. Then, both the parent and teen watched the tape and discussed it. The best relationships were those where teens felt confident enough to express their point and also listen to what their parents had to say—in a calm, logical way.
We need to help our teens learn to argue (really, just communicate) effectively. This is a hard task. When we are upset or emotionally involved, it is hard to not only model calm discussion of a disagreement but also try to help our kids express their point (even when we do not agree).
The study proved this, in fact when parents listened to their kids, their kids listened back even when they did not agree. This showed mutual respect.
Joseph P. Allen, “Predictors of Susceptibility to Peer Influence Regarding Substance Use in Adolescence.” Child Development University of Virginia. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01682.x/abstract