4 steps to avoid conflicts with your teen

If there is problem in the house, talk it out!


“Our parents just don’t get us!” is probably what a lot of older kids think of their parents when asked about if they can communicate with them.

On your part, it’s also harder to understand what junior is thinking. Although every child matures at a different age, many will start acting differently as they approach adolescence. During this period, some become more concerned about their physical appearance and changes, while others experience greater emotional volatility.

And if parents start making assumptions and interfering with their child’s social or academic life, junior may just react by withdrawing and start hiding their thoughts from their parents.

The trust they have in their peers may even start to outweigh their trust for their parents. Not surprisingly, this is when they’ll start displaying greater independence and even disobey their parents.

Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist with Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, notes that it is normal for teenagers to be rebellious and refuse to accept any parental advice. They are also more likely to identify with their peers as they feel that their peers understand them better, compared to their parents.

“With demanding or angry parents, communication becomes a struggle since there is no way to understand each other.”

Unlike parents, children don’t experience direct pressure from their peers to perform and excel in school, adds counselling psychologist Eugene Chong. This is because some parents tend to have unrealistic expectations of their children, expecting Einstein-level performances.

The experts also point out that parents need to understand that a good parent-child relationship, which isn’t easy to maintain, requires mutual understanding between parent and child.  

Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, explains that parents only communicate actively with their children when issues arise. Not only does this result in poor bonding and understanding of each other, both parties also anticipate aggression when communication is initiated. This, in turn, triggers a defensive approach, as well as attempts to gain control and authority over the situation.

Koh also lists factors that could give rise to parent-child conflict:

* Children who don’t express themselves may avoid communicating, especially if parents are too demanding or always angry. Therefore, communication becomes a struggle. So, the parent ends up forcing their ideas onto the child, who becomes angry at being judged or misunderstood.

* Denying your offspring personal space or the chance to speak or be listened to gives the impression that you don’t value, care for or love them. Going straight into crisis-management mode when something happens can cause your mini-me to feel rejected, making them more defiant. 

* Conflicting perspectives, views or needs, especially when there is no intention to compromise, can cause conflicts as well. If both parties do not try to understand the other’s point of view, or even find out the root cause of the misunderstanding, both parent and child can end up fighting for different things.

* Wrong timing, situation and mood can serve as a distraction from the true intention of both parent and child, and lead to both parties saying things before thinking. For example, embarrassment or shame about a particular incident can result in one person acting more forceful or defensive, which makes the problem more difficult to resolve.