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Fair Fight

How to have a fair fight with your teen.

Are you and your teen constantly arguing with one another? If anyone knows how to push your buttons, it's your kids... and teens are notorious for rattling your nerves. Your teen will test your patience, as well as master the art of perseverance when it comes to pushing you over the edge. As your teen gains more independence, it's inevitable that disagreements will occur more often. So, using the "Fair Fight" rules outlined below will help you maintain your sanity, as well as teach your teen appropriate ways to handle conflict.

Quick Fact: The tongue is one of the most powerful muscles in the body. Tongue lashing in an argument can destroy relationships. Our tongue holds the power to uplift or destroy, choose your words wisely.

Fair Fight Rules:

1. Don't use "You" in an argument. A "You" statement is a way to place all of the blame on the other person as well as put them on the defensive. For example, if you walk into your teens room and it looks like a tornado hit it, you may be tempted to say, "You never clean up after yourself!" Well, your teen may have just cleaned up after breakfast and may come back with "You never appreciate anything that I do!" As you can see, this conversation is not leading to a productive outcome. So, when angry don't use "You."

2. Don't use Absolutes, such as, "never", "always", or "must". In the example above, "never" was used. In an argument absolutes are usually accompanied with a "You" statement. Want a recipe for disaster? Then couple some "You" statements with an absolute.

3. Don't name call; it only adds fuel to the fire.

4. Don't cross your arms, finger point, or ball up your fists. These gestures are defensive and imply being closed off. When people feel shut out they cease to listen and begin to retaliate.

Quick Fact: Research suggests that approximately 90% of our communication is done non-verbally. What is your body saying when you're angry?

5. Don't YELL! If you're in close proximity to someone, there is no need to raise your voice. Either they've made a choice to listen or not. Truth is when you're angry and yelling; you're increasing your heart rate, blood pressure and straining your voice. On top of that, your teen stopped listening once you started yelling.

6. Don't Hit - anyone. Easily put no need to strike anyone out of anger. Instead, use that pent up energy on a heavy bag or hit the asphalt for a good run. But never, ever, ever hit your teen out of anger no matter how many buttons they push.

7. Don't bring up the past. The past needs to remain in the past. If you're throwing out things that happened a year ago, then you're the one with the problem, not your teen. Dredging up the past shows that you haven't dealt with what happened appropriately. It's time to forgive and move in a forward motion.

8. Don't interrupt. Let your teen express herself in a conflict. Then you can share your side. This approach will teach your teen mutual respect and proper conflict resolution.

9. Don't assume you're right. If you listen, you may be able to understand where your teen's coming from. Who knows, you may be wrong.

10. Don't hold a grudge. When it's over, it's over. Forgive and move on after you've resolved an argument. Let bygones be bygones.

When we're angry and start arguing, our intent is to be heard. However, we have funny ways of expressing ourselves and oftentimes hurt those we care most about with our words and actions. By applying these basic "Fair Fight" rules, you can express yourself and your feelings without damaging relationships.

More from Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph.D.
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More from Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph.D.
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