Have you ever found yourself snapping back at your daughter when she says something disrespectful? Or perhaps you make a completely unrealistic threat that you know deep down you’ll never follow through on when your daughter doesn’t listen to you?
Teens and tweens seem to have a finely tuned ability to hit all of our buttons. And it’s not unusual for parents to have a knee-jerk reaction when they do. Unfortunately, the result is that we end up parenting from an overly emotional, conflict-driven state that only adds to the problem.
In this article, we’ll look at a better way to approach conflicts when parenting teens and tweens. When you apply this information, you can avoid knee-jerk responses and instead find a solution that respects both your needs and your daughter’s needs while strengthening your relationship.
Let’s get started!
Make Sense of What You’re Feeling
The first thing to do when handling challenging situations with your teen or tween is to press pause and identify exactly what you’re feeling. After all, you can’t solve the problem at hand when you are unclear about what the problem really is.
Identifying what you’re feeling sounds simple enough, but it usually takes some digging to get beyond your surface reaction and down to the deeper emotion.
Most people stick with the same tried and true words to talk about how they feel, for example: bad, sad, mad, or anxious. But there are hundreds of words in the English language to describe emotions, so really feel into your emotion and get specific. This will make it easier to let the feeling go and return to a place of calm clarity.
Here are some examples to help you get started in identifying your specific emotions:
Once you know exactly what you’re feeling, you’ll be ready to move onto the next step: finding out why you’re feeling that way.
What’s Really Going On?
Imagine your daughter broke her curfew—again. The first couple of times you let it slide, but you’ve had enough. You’re so angry with her! If you stay in this space of being angry, you’re likely to focus on what she did wrong and deliver some kind of punishment.
But that would be a missed opportunity.
Why not get to the root of the problem and understand what’s really going on instead? Then you can find a solution that strengthens the communication and connection between you and your daughter— rather than driving a wedge between you.
To help you get to the heart of the matter, ask yourself these questions:
- What were my expectations about the situation?
- Did I communicate those expectations clearly?
- What was I intending to do in this situation?
- Did something stop me from doing that?
- Am I having a knee jerk reaction right now? Why is that?
You don’t have to have all the answers at this point but asking yourself these questions will help you start to see things with a fresh perspective.
Are Faulty Beliefs Getting in The Way?
When you have an especially strong reaction to something your daughter says or does, there’s likely something deeper going on: faulty beliefs.
Faulty beliefs are underlying beliefs such as:
- I’m not enough.
- I’m not worthy.
- I’m not loved.
- I’m not safe.
They live in the subconscious mind, so you may not immediately recognize the role they play when you are parenting teens and tweens. But if you have a strong negative reaction to something your child says or does, there’s a good chance that an underlying belief is at play.
Let’s look at an example. Imagine your daughter just rolled her eyes at something you said. It’s not the first time she’s done it, and she’s been doing it more and more lately.
The first couple of times you ignored it, even though it was getting under your skin. This time you’ve finally had enough. Your anger is at the boiling point.
Now’s the time to pause. You’re having a strong negative reaction to your daughter’s eye rolling. Is this because of a faulty belief?
Start by noticing what you are feeling. You’re angry, but what’s behind that anger? Maybe your daughter is digging up a deep-seated faulty belief: “I am not loved.” Eye-rolling shows disrespect and even contempt—the opposite of love.
Could it be that deep down, you might feel unloved and unlovable and her actions triggered this within you? Feeling unloved or unlovable is a very painful feeling, and so it’s no wonder that your mind reacts with anger. You might yell at her, criticize her, or even ground her in the heat of the moment—even though none of that aligns with how you truly want to parent.
The good news is, when you notice yourself having a strong reaction, you can follow the tips from this article. Stop and notice how you’re feeling. Ask yourself why you’re feeling that way. And, if you recognize that your faulty beliefs are being activated, you can choose a different response.
Most likely, your teen’s eye rolling doesn’t mean anything about whether or not you are loved. So instead of taking it personally, take a few deep breaths to recenter yourself and remember it’s a natural part of your daughter's growth and development to push limits.
You can then decide how to respond from a place of clarity. In this example, you calmly tell your daughter, “Eye rolling is disrespectful. Please stop.” Doing this allows you to take care of yourself by setting healthy boundaries while modeling respectful communication for your daughter.
More Resources on Parenting Teens and Tweens
Want to learn more about how to navigate the challenges of parenting teens and tweens while building a healthier, stronger relationship with your child? My book 5 Simple Steps to Manage Your Mood and the Companion Journal walk you and your daughter through five key questions that will help you resolve disagreements and reclaim your happiness.
If you’d like to learn more about faulty beliefs, check out my book, I Would But My Damn Mind Won’t Let Me, which explains in detail what each of these beliefs means and how to tame them so you can create more happiness in your life.