How to Stop Arguing with Your Teen


Have you ever stopped to wonder when arguing with your teen became a regular part of life? There are many situations that can turn into a power struggle with a teenager as they try to grow and change.

Arguments may mean yelling or slamming doors, or that one or both of you have reached a heightened emotional state of anger or stress. An argument may simply mean a conversation in which either person is not hearing, acknowledging or respecting the other.

You are arguing with your teenager because they are pushing limits and finding new boundaries (which is actually important for them to do at this age). Teens are also more easily triggered to the extent that a situation feels extreme. Simply put, teen drama is not a joke. Most often your teen is feeling the emotion (such as anger or sadness) to the extent that they are expressing it.

It may seem unavoidable for arguments and stressful episodes to happen all the time when parenting a teenager. A teen’s need for change and their intense emotional experiences certainly explain why arguing with your teen is a common occurrence, as it is for many families.

However, assuming that arguments are unavoidable makes it impossible to respond to them constructively. It is possible to stop arguing with your teen!

These tips will keep you on track for doing your part in preventing or ending arguments. Plus, you will be able to influence your teen to get out of the habit of arguing with you.

1. Allow your teen to be upset.

Your teen being upset is not about you. Don’t try to find blame or problem solve when your teen is expressing anger or frustration. It helps your teen manage their emotions if you can care that they are upset without having to join in or take on the emotion yourself.

Give your teen space or connect with them without words by sitting with them while they express their feeling. Take care of yourself in order to stay calm. There is always time to take a moment to set a positive intention for a conversation, whether it be for a day or for a few breaths.

2. Problem-solve when your teen can be solution-oriented

Just because your teen is being argumentative does not mean you need to accept that invitation to argue. Your teen won’t be able to process anything intellectually while they are upset.

At a time when your teen’s is calm, offer suggestions for solutions to recurring problems in your communication. Make it a habit to ask your teen whether it is a good time to talk, with a genuine intention to find at time that works best for both of you.

Ask your teen’s suggestion to problem solve for a situation and/or offer 2-3 options for your teen to choose from.

3. Keep a positive message behind your words

Do you use sarcasm? Do you speak in generalizing phrases, like “You’re always doing this!”

Your frustration is probably justified, but no parent ever gets an award for having an attitude worse than their teen. Negativity and exaggeration only increases distance between you and your teen. Even a suggestion may shut down communication if you are coming from a place of judgement or frustration.

Speak from a mindset of finding possibilities and believing in your teen’s ability to find solutions. You’ll be able to make clear suggestions about what you want to see more of and set clear expectations with your teenager.

4. Appreciate positive conversation moments

Sometimes it is hard to remember the easy, positive interactions. Take a moment every day to acknowledge something positive.

The behavior that you engage with is the behavior that you encourage to continue. Express to your teen if there is something you’re grateful for from them. Be honest and specific in your appreciation, and try to relate it to a quality that your teen has, such as their patience, understanding, willingness to share, or sense of humor.

Share your appreciation without any expectation of your teen’s need to respond. This directs you and your teen toward what is working, rather than simply noticing what doesn’t work.

6. Reconnect

Mistakes happen! Not every conversation with go smoothly, and sometimes you’ll say things that you regret.

Prevent an argument with your teen by practicing repair. Have the conversation in a neutral location, such as your kitchen or during a walk around the block. Your teen’s room is not a neutral location (especially when you haven’t been invited to be there). You’ll be met with an argument if your teen feels that their space is being intruded upon.

Reach out when you’re willing to listen before speaking. Reach out when you have clear suggestions to make, without expecting change right away. Reach out to apologize without asking for sympathy or an apology in return.

What will you do today to put positivity into your relationship with your teen?

To learn more about what can help you and your teen, visit Kristine’s website or contact her for a free phone consultation at (818) 923-1038.

About Kristine Tye

Kristine Tye MA MFT is a California licensed marriage and family therapist and anxiety treatment expert. She specializes in working will teens and their families. Learn more about how to connect and communicate with teens via free articles and tips for parents on her blog