Family Conflict

How to Teach Teens to Handle Friendship Problems

Encourage your teen to stop arguing as soon as he finds himself in a disagreement. Explain that trying to resolve the issue while he still feels angry won’t work. Also, teach your teen some tools for cooling down. Possible options for calming down include counting to 10, breathing deeply, or walking away and punching a pillow or something else soft.

Remind your teen to assess the situation. Once your teen is no longer directly in a confrontation, she should consider what the situation is, who's involved and what her problem is with the situation.

Suggest that your teen approach the friend with whom she's having a problem privately. The two of them should talk together without getting others involved. If there are more than two people involved, only those involved should discuss the situation.

Encourage your teen to tell his friend how he feels using “I feel” statements rather than “You” statements. For example, saying, “I feel like you don’t like me because we never hang out anymore,” is a better choice than saying, “You make me feel like you don’t like me anymore because you always hang out with John.”

Teach your teen to have some solutions in mind when she discusses the situation with the other friend. She should offer her solution after explaining how she feels.

Remind your teen to ask the others involved for their perspectives. When your teen listens, he should make eye contact with whoever is speaking -- and not get angry or interrupt.

Ask your teen to affirm his own feelings as well as the feelings of anyone else involved. Explain that even though they might disagree, everyone’s feelings are still valid.

Encourage your teen to try to have his friends work together to come up with a solution to the problem. Explain that they should look at the points on which they agree. Tell you teen that he should keep an open mind when trying to solve the problem with his friends. Remind him that he might need to apologize or forgive someone to maintain the friendship.

Suggest that the teens talk to another adult, such as a teacher or coach, if they can’t resolve the issue themselves. Help your teen recognize that she might have to let friends go if they can’t come to a reasonable agreement -- and the situation becomes stressful and unhealthy.

How to Cope With Family Conflict

Choose your battles with careful thought, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises. This approach can help a family avoid meaningless conflict. For example, if your husband insists on wearing his black suit to dinner instead of the tan one you picked out for him, let it go. It’s much easier to deal with family conflict when you save your conflict for the stuff that matters.

Learn to manage your stress in a positive manner, the University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension of Family and Consumer Sciences advises. When you are stressed, you are more likely to take your anger out on your family, which creates conflict. Try exercising, going outside and getting some fresh air or even counting to 10 to help you calm down when you feel you are experiencing too much stress. This can help you deal with conflicts your family is going through with less anger and frustration. You may find that your family resolves conflicts more quickly when your stress level is down.

Create boundaries when it comes to arguing, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises. For example, create a rule that anyone who feels they are on the verge of yelling or anyone who feels that their anger is escalating can say something like, “time out,” and walk away. This phrase is a way of letting your family know that you need a few minutes to calm down so that you can continue your discussion without losing your patience. This approach prevents fights from escalating and spinning out of control.

Keep the lines of communication open at all times. When everyone feels comfortable talking without worrying that they are being judged, blamed or disrespected, a lot of conflict can be prevented. For example, if your kids feel comfortable approaching you when they mess up at school, you may not be as angry with them as you would be if they covered it up.

What Is a Negative Parent-Teen Relationship?

Changing Relationship

Before the teen years, the parent-child relationship typically involves a deep connection, reciprocal positive feelings and enjoyable interactions. With the onset of adolescence, major changes can shake the bedrock of your relationship with your child, according to psychologist Terri Apter, writing for Your child may become argumentative, hyper-sensitive, impulsive and dramatic. You might be stunned and dismayed at the changes you see and hear. Your teen’s behavior could stem from feelings of defensiveness for the new person he is becoming.

Symptoms of Negative Relationship

A variety of interaction habits can develop between parents and teenagers, leading to a negative relationship. An unwillingness to recognize and accept differences between each other can create communication and trust issues, warns the U.S. Department of Education in the pamphlet “Helping Your Child Through Early Adolescence.” Overreacting to each other with strong emotions also makes communication difficult. Teenagers perceive parental criticism negatively, often because they already have shaky self-esteem and self-concept issues. When conflict happens and one or both parties don’t handle it appropriately, it can become negative. A negative conflict may involve personal attacks and defensiveness meant to deflect responsibility, advises psychologist John Ng, with Eagles Mediation & Counselling Centre.

Parenting Tactics

Parents engaging in negative parenting methods might employ a variety of tactics. Overly controlling behavior with strict rules is one example of negative parental behavior, according to author and researcher John Heron with the South Pacific Centre for Human Inquiry website. This authoritarian parenting style generally creates feelings of anger and resentment in a child. A submissive parenting technique that does not set appropriate boundaries doesn’t teach teenagers how to follow rules effectively. Rescuing an adolescent repeatedly from mistakes often leads to the child not developing personal responsibility. Parental neglect involves a lack of connection between parents and teen, which can foster a sense of abandonment and anger in the child.

Positive Changes

When counterproductive parenting methods become the norm, it takes effort to relearn more positive ways to interact with each other, but positive changes are possible. Strive to change the way you relate with your teenager, treating her with respect and understanding, advises the Planned Parenthood website. Spend time with your adolescent, engaging in enjoyable activities or just talking about daily events, thoughts and feelings. Conduct yourself honestly and ethically to display the values you want your teen to emulate. Make an effort to enjoy your teen, too, taking personal interest in the person she’s becoming.

Things You Should Know Before You Move Away From Your Parents

Budgets and Money

A child moving out of the home needs to be able to create a realistic budget. To help him learn, give the teenager a set amount of money for one week. With this money, the teen is expected to pay for gasoline, food and entertainment -- and even rent for his bedroom. After the week is over, help your teenager determine how much money he will need to meet his basic needs outside of the home. Emphasize that you won't be available to provide money if he doesn't follow his budget.

Basic Life Skills

Teens should learn several basic life skills before venturing off on their own, according to a list compiled by retired Army colonel Greg Banner, a father of six, and posted on the the University of Southern California website. For example, it's teens should know how to do their own laundry, prepare basic meals and clean up after themselves. The best way to teach teens is to provide them with daily and weekly chores. Make it the teen's responsibility to launder their own clothing or cook the family dinner one night each week. The first step, however, is to teach your teen how to successfully complete these tasks. For instance, teach your teenager that mixing ammonia and bleach is potentially dangerous, or to separate his clothing to avoid turning all of his whites pink.

How to Handle Conflict

Teens need to learn how to handle conflict. For parents, exhibiting appropriate conflict resolution skills is often the best tool. Instead of having a screaming match with a person who overcharges you at the grocery store, calmly show your teens how to point out the inconsistency and find a peaceful resolution with the employee. If a teenager is struggling with determining healthy ways to express anger or handle conflict, speak to a psychologist as a family. Several universities also offer courses in conflict resolution. Although they're often geared toward a processional setting, the skills learned in this course can help teens deal with conflict in their personal life.

Basic Car Maintenance

For many teens entering college or the work force, their vehicle is an important piece of their independence. Teens need to learn basic vehicle maintenance. Knowing how to change a tire, change the oil or switch out the windshield wiper blades will save the teens from the expense of a mechanic. It's also important for teens to find ways to pay their own insurance and learn the tell-tale signs the car should be repaired by a mechanic. For example, teach teens that if they hear a squealing when they press the brake, it's a sign the brake pads are worn and require replacement.

How Parents' Conflict Affects Children

Behaviorial Effects

According to child psychotherapist Yisroel Roll writing at, your child’s behavior is often negatively affected by your conflict with the other parent. For example, if you are married and fight constantly or you are divorced and it’s not amicable, your child might begin to act out as a result of the conflict he continuously witnesses. He might become disrespectful, defiant and rude. Roll said he believes this change in behavior is to get your attention in the hopes that you will have no choice but to work together to help him, and possibly overcome your differences.

Psychological Effects

Researchers at the University of Rochester performed a three-year study in 2006 on the psychological effects of parental conflict on 6-year-old children. According to the study, children whose fathers behaved differently toward them because of parental conflict, particularly in regards to his warmness, his involvement and his support, tend to have more psychological issues than children whose parents are not in the midst of conflict. Those psychological issues include anxiety, depression and withdrawal.


Children whose parents fight often blame themselves for their problems. According to Roll, your child might feel guilty about your conflict even if it has nothing to do with him. The more he hears you fight, the more he'll believe that something he did has caused the fight and that it's his fault. This type of blame can have lasting negative effects on his future relationships, his personality and his behavior.

Emotional Security

According to Mark E. Cummings, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame, your parental conflicts can have a lasting negative effect on your child’s emotional security. When you fight, she no longer feels secure in her life, Cummings said in a 2012 article at the U.S. News & World Report Health website. This can affect her self-esteem, her confidence and her ability to feel safe and loved. Emotional insecurity can lead to behavioral and psychological problems.

Effective Teaching for Oppositional Children

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Children with oppositional defiant disorder refuse to acknowledge the authority of their parents or teachers. According to Michigan State University's website on ODD, children with this disorder react with extreme anger, defiance and disrespect against any attempt to tell them what to do or what not to do. They may also go out of their way to try to provoke anger from other people. When confronted with the consequences of their actions, they usually try to blame someone else. Because children with ODD are willing to escalate every conflict regardless of the consequences, indirect methods are often more effective with them.

Building Positivity

Positive reinforcement is more effective with oppositional children than negative reinforcement. According to a 2011 article by Childswork/Childsplay, parents should try to create as many emotionally positive experiences as possible for a child with ODD. Praise your oppositional child whenever he does the right thing. Avoid giving him direct commands except for the most important issues. Model the behavior you want to see and praise your child when he imitates the behavior. For instance, if you want to teach him to handle a conflict with his sibling without throwing a temper tantrum, it is more effective to demonstrate your own ability to stay calm and reasonable under pressure than to tell him how he should handle the situation.

Offering Rewards

According to Childswork/Childsplay, children with ODD respond better to rewards than punishments. Create a set of clearly defined rewards your child can earn by demonstrating appropriate behavior. The purpose of using rewards is to teach your child better social skills based on cooperation and compromise rather than conflict and defiance. Reward behaviors such as getting up for school on time, discussing issues without getting angry and treating others with kindness. Emphasize rewards as much as possible and treat consequences as a last resort.

Applying Consequences

A child with ODD is likely to respond to any consequences with an angry outburst, so consequences should be reserved for the most important issues and applied only when necessary. According to marriage and family therapist Marilyn Adams, you should structure your family life so that you control a range of consequences that your child cannot prevent you from applying. For instance, if you take away the remote control your child cannot play video games or watch TV. Although the use of rewards and consequences can help you teach your child better coping skills, ODD is a serious mental health problem and always requires professional assistance.