Steps to De-Escalate Conflict With Your Teen

In the heat of an argument, people do and say things they may regret later. Unfortunately, once you say or do something, you can't undo it. Rather than put yourself in a situation in which you or your teen have to deal with hurt feelings and make amends, learn some steps to dial down the conflict 1. With some patience and logic, you can de-escalate conflict with your teen to a more civil and productive situation 1.

Keep Yourself in Check

Practice techniques to keep yourself calm during a conflict with your teen 1. Take note of signs of agitation, such as an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, tensed muscles or clenched fists. Breathe in deeply through your nose and slowly exhale. Make an effort to relax your muscles instead of tensing them. Additionally, you can mentally count to 10 before speaking, when you feel the urge to make an angry or sarcastic retort. Alternatively, repeat a silent mantra, such as "I am calm."

Do Something Unexpected

Agree or sympathize with your teenager when possible. If a teen is upset, agreeing with her viewpoint or sympathizing with her can surprise or comfort her and de-escalate the conflict 1. Speak in calm and quiet tones, instead of engaging in a shouting match. Teens won't expect you to do this, and it might just prompt them to follow your lead, advises Jane Rekas, mental health therapist for children and adults, in an article on her website.

Be Diplomatic

Use "I" statements, instead of "you" statements to avoid placing blame. For example, you can say, "I feel hurt when you don't call when you're going to be late." Ask your teen open-ended questions -- those that can't be answered with a "yes" or "no" -- such as, "What can I do to help you remember to call?" This is a way to enter into a productive conversation and help you arrive at a resolution.

Walk Away and Think

Some conflicts take more than one conversation to resolve. Sometimes, it's better to abandon the conflict temporarily until you or your teen can adjust your attitude or perspective. Take a walk or find a quiet room to reflect on the conflict between you and your teen. Ask yourself if you can take on a broader perspective or a different attitude to allow you to come to a resolution that's satisfactory for you and your teenager.