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Channeling Parent-Teen Conflict In A Positive Direction

When you stop participating in an argument, you send your adolescent the message that you’re in control. Though she isn’t consciously aware of this, she feels the power shift from her to you. So if she can pull you back into the argument, she can regain that control she lost.

When you walk away, you “win”—but your teenager doesn’t want that to happen, so she will try almost anything to keep it going (e.g., call you names, throw things, punch a hole in the wall, slam a door, etc.). If your teen can do something that gets you to react, she feels much better, and in many cases, she knows that if she pushes all the right buttons, you just might “give in” to get relief from the torture.

How can parents break this cycle?

Tips to channel conflict in a positive direction:

1. If the argument is over the phone or via text message, tell your adolescent that you’re done with the discussion and you will not reply anymore. Then, follow through. Turn the phone off, or unplug it if it’s a landline and get involved with something else. You can finish talking later when she returns home and things are calm again.

2. Don’t allow the crisis at hand to spill over and contaminate the rest of the relationship. It’s easy for the conflict to take over every conversation. Be willing to press the pause button—not to overlook or ignore the problem, but to have time to take a break and re-establish connections over a meal or shared moments that have nothing to do with the conflict at hand.

3. Don’t let conflicts build up—deal with them when they happen. A problem that you overlook doesn’t just go away; it becomes a building block in a wall that can grow and prevent both you and your adolescent from properly responding to future conflicts. Each one that you address and resolve provides training for future conflicts.

4. Don’t lose the “concept of we” in middle of the conflict. The relationship that you have been building with your adolescent will bear fruit over time as long as you protect it. The conflict can challenge us as moms and dads, but we need to approach it as an opportunity rather than as a sign of failure on our part. Don’t allow it to create a permanent breach in your relationship.

5. Don’t reward negative behavior. It has been shown that over time, when a behavior is no longer reinforced or rewarded, it will eventually fade away—also referred to as “extinction.” In other words, if the behavior doesn’t get what it needs to survive (your attention), it will eventually cease to exist. If you continue to feed the behavior – even just once in a while – the behavior will continue to rear its ugly head. Over time your adolescents will see that you mean it when you walk away—and they will learn they can’t pull you back in. This change in your response will lead your adolescent to find new way of coping.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

6. Moms and dads often make the “avoidance mistake” when conflict shows itself. In other words, they break away. They stop spending time with their adolescent and avoid the conflict at all costs. That may be a reasonable tactic for a short time, until everyone has a chance to cool off and respect is restored. However, ongoing avoidance will only serve to build walls between you and your adolescent. Instead, by engaging in discussion you will let your adolescent know you’ll continue to love them and spend time together even though you are at odds.

7. When conflict emerges, it’s time to make sure that everyone knows the rules for the “fight” by setting up some basic boundaries. For example, “We’re not going to be disrespectful or dishonest with each other.” Put it into words, and back it up with consequences. Words without backbone mean very little. Let the consequences for crossing boundaries of respect speak louder than your words. And for consistency, make sure those on both sides of the conflict embrace the idea of respect, 100% of the time.

8. The teenage years are a time of experimentation, and sometimes that experimentation includes risky behaviors. Don't avoid the subjects of sex, or drug, alcohol, and tobacco use. Discussing these things openly with adolescents before they're exposed to them increases the chance that they'll act responsibly when the time comes. Share your family values with your adolescent and talk about what you believe is right and wrong. Know your adolescent's friends — and know their friends' moms and dads. Regular communication between parents can go a long way toward creating a safe environment for all adolescents in a peer group. Moms and dads can help each other keep track of the adolescents' activities without making the adolescents feel that they're being watched.

9. Pick your battles carefully. If adolescents want to dye their hair, paint their fingernails black, or wear funky clothes, think twice before you object. Adolescents want to shock their moms and dads, and it's a lot better to let them do something temporary and harmless. Leave the objections to things that really matter, like tobacco, drugs and alcohol, or permanent changes to their appearance. Ask why your adolescent wants to dress or look a certain way and try to understand how your adolescent is feeling. You might also want to discuss how others might perceive them if they look different — help your adolescent understand how he or she might be viewed.

10. Put yourself in your adolescent's place. Practice empathy by helping your adolescent understand that it's normal to be a bit concerned or self-conscious, and that it's OK to feel grown-up one minute and like a child the next.

11. Respect your adolescent’s privacy. Some moms and dads, understandably, have a very hard time with this one. They may feel that anything their adolescents do is their business. But to help your adolescent become a young adult, you'll need to grant some privacy. If you notice warning signs of trouble, then you can invade your adolescent's privacy until you get to the heart of the problem. But otherwise, it's a good idea to back off. In other words, your adolescent's room, texts, e-mails, and phone calls should be private. You also shouldn't expect your adolescent to share all thoughts or activities with you at all times. Of course, for safety reasons, you should always know where adolescents are going, when they'll be returning, what they're doing, and with whom, but you don't need to know every detail. And you definitely shouldn't expect to be invited along! Start with trust. Let your adolescent know that you trust her. But, if the trust gets broken she may enjoy fewer freedoms until the trust is rebuilt.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

12. Adolescents will likely act unhappy with expectations their moms and dads place on them. However, they usually understand and need to know that their parents care enough about them to expect certain things such as good grades, acceptable behavior, and adherence to the rules of the house. If moms and dads have appropriate expectations, adolescents will likely try to meet them. Without reasonable expectations, your adolescent may feel you don't care about him.

13. Before you walk away, it’s always helpful to set a limit with your adolescent and attempt to redirect them. For example, “I’m going to go take a break. You should go listen to some music or do something to calm down.” Another example is, “Yelling at me isn’t going to get you what you want. When you calm down, we can talk more. I’ll check on you in 15 minutes and see if you’re ready.” Also, if your adolescent has younger siblings in the home, take them with you when you walk away so they don’t become a target or a pawn that your adolescent can use to pull you back into the argument. If your adolescent has older siblings, you might tell them to go to their rooms until your adolescent calms down. The smaller the audience is – the better.

14. Taking care to not heat up the fire. As you discuss your problems or conflicts, choose your words wisely. Stop saying things like, “No, I will never support that.” You’re setting yourself up for failure, and you may have to eat your words when you say that. Avoid words like “you” or “always” and speak in broader, less offensive terms. Be more open to what you will or won’t support, and pick your battles carefully. A wise parent will use the eternal perspective as a barometer for choosing which stances are worthy to fight for, and which ones may not be as important or are just a personal preference on your part. Be clear on your limits. Don’t say, “It’s your choice,” or “What do you think?” It is better to say, “Here are my limits…what I will and won’t allow in this situation.” Then, explore their needs and ideas and try to find a way to meet each other halfway, listening more and talking less.

15. The car is one of the most difficult places to get into an argument with your adolescent. The first rule is, pull over. You may not be able to walk away, but you might be able to step outside the car to get some fresh air if it’s safe to do so. Or, you can tell your adolescent you’re not going to continue on until they calm down, because it’s not safe for you to drive while they’re verbally abusing you or acting disruptive. Then, find something to do that will help you cope. This might take some planning ahead (e.g., packing a book or magazine) that you can pull out and use in these cases.

16. If you feel threatened by your adolescent and have access to a phone, you might decide to call the police. A word of caution: do not get into a physical power struggle to escape from your adolescent. Pushing against them or trying to get free may cause some adolescents to escalate. Do not call the police simply because your adolescent is being defiant. There is a difference between frustrating, blocking behavior – and threatening, unsafe behavior.

17. Sometimes you can’t walk away in the heat of an escalating argument because you’re busy (e.g., you‘re cooking dinner). Set one limit with your adolescent and then do what you can to focus your attention on the task at hand, not your adolescent. Avoid eye contact and ignore comments he makes under his breath. Find some sort of mental task to occupy your mind, such as counting or singing a song to yourself in your head. If you have a relatively compliant adolescent who will go to his room when asked, you can tell him to do so, but if your adolescent is like most, he will refuse. Since you can’t make him go, the best thing to do is not pay attention to him. The key is to avoid giving his behavior any power. Control what you can—yourself.

18. Sometimes you go to your room and your adolescent follows you. Here’s a trick: Once you walk away, say no more. Lock the door and ride out the storm. If your adolescent is screaming outside your door or pounding on it with all their might, ignore them. Do whatever you can to cope until they’ve calmed down. The second you turn that door knob to tell them to stop, you’ve given them what they wanted. Put on some headphones, turn up the TV, read a book, knit. Do whatever you have to do to focus your attention away from your adolescent’s behavior. If they damage something or call you foul names while they’re pounding on your door, give them consequences afterward, when they’ve calmed down—and stick to them. In other words, ignore their attempts to pull you in when you’re disengaging from them, but hold them accountable for anything they damage – or rules they break – later.

19. Sometimes your adolescent blocks you or clings to you. This is perhaps the most difficult situation to find yourself in when you try to walk away. It’s very important that you stay calm, use a normal tone of voice, and tell your adolescent this behavior is not okay, while redirecting them to go do something to calm down. They’re probably going to stick around, though—at least at first. Continue to remain calm and wait it out. This might mean that you literally stand there and wait. You could also let your adolescent know that they need to stop or there will be a consequence later. If your adolescent is not blocking your path, try your best to go about your business (e.g., do the dishes, read a book, surf the internet, etc.). The goal is to find some sort of task to focus on so your attention is not on your adolescent’s behavior.

20. Sometimes your adolescent trashes her own room. If your adolescent goes to her own room and starts to throw things around or screams at the top of her lungs about what a jerk you are or how much she hates you, let her. If she breaks something of her own, that’s a natural consequence. She will have to buy her own replacement or do some chores to earn the money to buy a new one. If she makes a mess of the room, she will have to clean it up later when things calm down. It’s more effective to focus on controlling yourself and your emotions rather than your adolescent’s behavior.

21. If it sounds like your adolescent is being incredibly destructive to other areas of your home, it might be a good idea to call the police instead of trying to stop him yourself. Call the non-emergency number for your local police department ahead of time to discuss how they would handle these kinds of situations if you should call them for assistance. This way, you have an idea of what you’d be getting into and you can make an informed decision.

22. If your adolescent threatens to hurt themselves or someone else, that’s another situation in which you will need to utilize some local supports (e.g., the police, a local crisis helpline). When the safety of your adolescent, or another family member, is at risk, you absolutely want to step back in there in some way and make sure everyone is safe.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

23. The stance that you take in the heat of the battle is a reflection of who you are in real life. How you communicate during conflict teaches something very important to your adolescent. The messages that you will want to convey include:
  • I’ve heard your side of the argument, but for your own good, you simply need to follow the rules.
  • It’s okay to not agree with everyone.
  • It’s okay to not follow what everyone else is thinking.
  • There are times that we have to stand up and fight.
  • We can have conflict, and still remain friends.

24. Know the warning signs. A certain amount of change may be normal during the adolescent years, but too drastic or long-lasting a switch in personality or behavior may signal real trouble — the kind that needs professional help. Watch for one or more of these warning signs:
  • extreme weight gain or loss
  • falling grades
  • rapid, drastic changes in personality
  • run-ins with the law
  • signs of tobacco, alcohol, or drug use
  • skipping school continually
  • sleep problems
  • sudden change in friends
  • talk or even jokes about suicide

25. Any other inappropriate behavior that lasts for more than 6 weeks can be a sign of underlying trouble, too. You may expect a glitch or two in your adolescent's behavior or grades during this time, but your A/B student shouldn't suddenly be failing, and your normally outgoing teenager shouldn't suddenly become constantly withdrawn. Your doctor or a local counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist can help you find proper counseling.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Motivating Your Underachieving Teenager

Most moms and dads find it difficult to tolerate an adolescent who simply refuses to “try.” His refusal to do homework is often an indirect way of expressing anger and confusion. Under-achievement in teens can be caused by many things:
  • Peer pressure, especially among adolescents: “If I do too well, my friends won't like me.”
  • Overly high parental expectations. The father may be a doctor, but Michael may want to play in a rock band right now, and if the academic pressure is too strong, Michael may rebel.
  • Mild learning disabilities or an unrecognized physical problem such as a vision or hearing difficulty.
  • Emotional upset. The adolescent who has experienced a death in the family or whose parents are going through a divorce is very likely to go through a period of under-achievement.

Under-achievement allows teens to postpone the responsibility associated with independence and thereby postpone independence itself. Here are some of the traits of under-achievers:
  • Academically, under-achievers commonly fail to prioritize effectively, often focusing on activities that have little long-term value while ignoring valuable experiences necessary to their futures. They also show little interest in core subjects.
  • Much of the time they say they are bored.
  • Their effort is inconsistent.
  • They tend to feign indifference, and they act as if very little matters to them.
  • Under-achievers (while frequently complaining that they want to be left alone) really want others to solve their conflicts and take their responsibility.
  • Under-achievers are usually creative in their excuses, consistently avoiding personal responsibility for their failures, or even in some cases, for their successes. Their explanations serve to deny them control over their circumstances, thereby reducing their anxiety for their continued failures.
  • Under-achievers often have difficulty choosing areas of study and may experience difficulty earning a diploma or degree.
  • Under-achievers tend to pass their anxiety on to others as they passively wait for someone else to take charge of their circumstances.
  • Usually, the under-achievers’ goals change frequently or disappear.
  • When asked about their inconsistent levels of performance, under-achievers will blame others or events beyond their control.

Often times, moms and dads are more worried than their teenager about whether or not homework has been completed or enough time has been spent studying for an exam. Many parents have spent an evening or a weekend completing a project for their under-achieving teenager when, in fact, he may have had several weeks to work on it. Parents may "jump in," awakening and prodding their teenager in the morning to ensure he gets to school on time.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Often times, moms and dads report that their under-achiever is in a dazed state. Parents give instructions to him, but the instructions are usually not followed to completion. When questioned by parents or educators, the under-achiever often responds in a hostile manner. He may complain of being overworked and under-appreciated.

Under-achievers can be charming and active, but they have ambivalent attitudes toward authority. They are often resentful and angry toward individuals who attempt to control them; yet, at the same time, they want that control as a way of delaying personal responsibility. Superficially, they respond with indifference, generally withdrawing from adults.

Under-achievers often express anger through passive-aggressive behavior. They may not say anything, but they just will not do anything --- or they will do it half-heartedly. This allows them to view themselves as controlling responses over authority figures. This is a manipulative game.

Under-achievers may have at one time been good students. Then signs of growing indifference slowly surfaced (e.g., missing, lost, or unprepared assignments become increasingly frequent). This behavior usually begins to occur at about the time these teens are required to complete heavier workloads outside the school environment (a major step in personal responsibility). These responses are often subconscious choices made by the under-achiever to avoid future increased responsibility.

As under-achievers get older, parents can observe their growing irresponsibility and "forgetfulness." This forgetfulness may better be identified as "selective memory" (e.g., they have no difficulty remembering sporting events and scores, but are often forgetting test dates). The path of least resistance often becomes the norm.

Often times, under-achievers feel "picked on" and overwhelmed without understanding why they are encouraging so much attention to be focused on them. Remember, the under-achiever’s behavior is subconscious. He does not purposefully decide to avoid responsibility. Rather, he feels anxiety or frustration – and gives up. Feeling a number of fears, under-achievers unconsciously use denial of reality to avoid coping with these fears. This process keeps under-achievers immature.

How can you motivate your under-achiever?

1. Because under-achievers are highly fearful of the future (even though they usually won’t admit it), they need to explore and discuss their fears and anxieties about specific issues in a non-threatening, indirect manner. You can help by casually bringing up situations in your life, or the lives of others you know. Giving insights into various aspects of adult life is helpful. Especially bring up situations that are anxiety provoking and fearful. Discuss how you would handle these situations. Ask the teenager to give suggestions, and in a non-threatening manner, discuss the merits of these suggestions. Playing "what if" scenarios is helpful. Under-achievers need to learn how to build appropriate strategies.

2. Encourage your adolescent to do something he likes—whether it's painting or biking or tinkering under the hood of his car. Having him do something in which he excels will help bolster the confidence he needs to try school challenges.

3. If the mom or dad feels the need to help with a delayed school project, have the teenager write or discuss why he procrastinated or why he is having difficulty. This will allow him to use anxiety as a cue to action, not as a message to withdraw from responsibility. Providing assistance to under-achievers should happen only after they have made legitimate attempts at resolving their problems. Help should be in the form of guidance, not actually doing the work. This teaches under-achievers to accept responsibility, but assures them that others will be a helpful resource.

4. If you feel you're making no progress, consult a professional. Under-achievement often has deep psychological roots, and if you're not making headway with your adolescent, you'd be wise to contact someone who can help discover what's bothering him.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

5. Offering emotional support (under-achievers generally have low self-esteem) helps immensely, but ultimately, the under-achiever has to decide to do it for himself. Show acceptance and affection for your youngster and make certain that he knows you love him no matter what his academic standing.

6. Progress may be exceedingly slow, but express pleasure in anything. An improvement from a C to a C+ is a good start. A few forays into grades of B- and above will prove to the under-achiever that he is capable of better work and nothing terrible will happen if he does it.

7. Realize that under-achievement is the responsibility of the under-achiever. Moms and dads and educators must place responsibility and consequences back on the under-achiever. Parents and concerned others need to learn to redirect their energy to aid under-achievers in becoming more responsible. Responsibility and consequences must be returned to under-achievers in such a way that reinforces in them that they are responsible for their choices.

8. Sometimes, one of the best ways to help an under-achiever is to not get directly involved in homework. Find out how much time he should be spending on homework every night and then require that amount of time to be invested. Make sure he touches base with you, your spouse, or an older sibling to show that he made an effort to do his work. Then check to see that the work makes it into the backpack. (Doing the work but not taking it to school is another form of self-sabotage for the under-achiever.)

9. Though it may be hard for moms and dads to accept, not all kids are academically inclined. But even if your adolescent isn't a scholar, he can be great at many other things. He may be a wonderful jazz pianist, or have excellent painting skills. Or maybe he's just a really nice kid. Your job as a parent is helping your adolescent find what he's good at, and what he really loves—whether it's helping the poor, working with tools, or starting a business. Many things are possible for people of all abilities, and if you believe in your adolescent—no matter what— you make his road that much easier.

10. Under-achievers are highly fearful of the future and the emotions that they feel about these fears. They need to learn and understand that their emotions are cues that can lead them to positive actions. Becoming self-aware, understanding motives and reactions, helps under-achievers more easily accept responsibility for themselves. They learn that by appropriately acting on their feelings, they can work though them, be successful, and not be overwhelmed. This process aids in raising their self-esteem and maturity level. In turn, under-achievers become more resilient and goal-oriented. They learn that feelings of inadequacy can be overcome and success can make them feel good. This helps them become more independent and progress toward maturity.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Dealing with Passive-Aggressive Behavior in Children and Teens

“Passive-aggression” is just that: aggression (i.e., anger) that is passive (i.e., hidden). If children are taught to suppress and deny their feelings, they will seek out ways of getting around that. They will find other channels to express themselves – ways that are “passively resistant.” This is how sabotage (e.g., covert behavior, forgetting, ambiguity, chaos creation, etc.) and retaliation (e.g., overt punishment, eye for an eye, “justified” abandonment or abuse, etc.) are learned.

Most children have passive-aggressive tendencies, and can continue to live this way if moms and dads don't help curb this behavior.

What comes with the territory?
  1. Children with passive-aggressive tendencies are usually unaware that their difficulties at home and school are a result of their own behaviors. 
  2. Passive-aggressive children are resistant to demands for adequate performance both in social circumstances and in the classroom. 
  3. Rather than take responsibility for their own actions, they tend to blame and manipulate others.
  4. They experience conscious hostility toward authority figures, but do not connect their own passively resistant behavior with hostility or resentment. 
  5. They have resentment of responsibility, and they show this resentment through the expression of a variety of methods – other than openly expressed anger. 
  6. They tend to be non-assertive and intentionally inefficient. 
  7. They tend to use procrastination and forgetfulness to avoid fulfilling obligations.
  8. They try to get revenge through agitation. 
  9. They usually do not trust others.
  10. These behaviors are usually not disturbing to the child, but to those who interact with him/her. 
  11. This pattern usually begins in early childhood and can occur in various contexts.

 ==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Signs of passive-aggressive behavior:
  1. "Forgets" or "misplaces" important items
  2. Avoids responsibility for tasks
  3. Believes that he/she is doing a much better job than parents/teachers think
  4. Can’t seem to accept responsibility for problems resulting from his/her poor performance
  5. Blames others for his/her problems
  6. Fails to do his/her share of the work, thereby obstructing other's efforts
  7. Performs poorly
  8. Procrastinates
  9. Protests (unrealistically) that everyone is making unreasonable demands
  10. Shuts down conversations
  11. Sulks, becomes irritable or becomes very quickly argumentative
  12. Tends to work slowly or deliberately do a bad job on tasks that he/she really does not want to do
  13. Unreasonably criticizes people in positions of authority
  14. Usually resents useful suggestions from others on how to become more productive
  15. Verbally complies, but behaviorally delays
  16. Verbally denies feelings of anger

Phrases to let you know your child is being passive-aggressive:
  1. Be there in a minute.
  2. Fine, whatever.
  3. I couldn't find my pen, so I didn't finish my homework.
  4. I couldn't hear you. I had my headphones on. What did you say?
  5. I did all of my homework.
  6. I did make my bed.
  7. I don't know where your car keys are.
  8. I forgot about the laundry in the dryer. Leave me a note next time.
  9. I took the laundry out of the dryer. I didn't know you wanted it folded.
  10. I tried to unload the dishwasher, but I didn't know where the plates went, so I left them on the counter.
  11. I will, but I have to go to the bathroom first.
  12. I'll do it right after school.
  13. I'll do it right after this show.
  14. I'm coming.
  15. Putting away the clean dishes is his chore.

Moms and dads who are familiar with these typical patterns are able to respond directly to their children's underlying anger. Here are some tips to stop passive-aggressive behavior:

1. Allow your youngster to openly express his feelings in ways that suit him. If he shouts or gets angry, don't get mad too. Remain calm and let him know that you understand and are willing to help him deal with his feelings.

2. Anger is a basic, spontaneous, neuro-physiological part of the human condition. As such, it is neither good nor bad. It just is. Too often, children are held to an unrealistic social standard about what it takes to be "good." From a very early age, they begin to associate having angry feelings with being bad. When parents teach their kids to say "yes" to the presence of anger and "no" to the expression of anger through aggressive or passive-aggressive behaviors, they build a foundation for lifelong emotional intelligence and strong relationships.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

3. Be willing to receive their anger when they test out their new voice. If you are going to guide your youngster to be more open and direct with her anger, then you must also be willing to accept her anger when she expresses it. For many, this is truly difficult. But for lasting change to take hold, they must know that the assertive expression of their anger will be tolerated, respected and even honored!

4. Each time passive-aggressive behavior is answered with a mirrored counter passive-aggressive response from parents, the hidden means of expressing anger is reinforced and an opportunity for direct emotional expression is lost. On the other hand, each time passive-aggressive behavior is confronted assertively, the hidden anger is weakened. The most effective way for our kids to learn to acknowledge and accept angry feelings is to role model this for them on a daily basis. As moms and dads, this can be a real challenge since we, too, may have faced stringent socializing forces regarding the expression of our anger. It's never too late to learn to express anger in emotionally honest, direct ways, however, and the stakes have never been so high!

5. Encourage your youngster when he shows good behavior and completes assigned tasks. Positively praise your youngster for his effort, regardless of how small of an accomplishment it is. Celebrating your youngster's positive behaviors can work in raising his self-esteem. Also, make your youngster an active part of the family. Let the youngster know that her opinion is always welcome and that she plays an important role within the family. Occasionally let her make decisions as to what to eat or where to go, showing her that her choices matter.

6. Passive-aggressive kids need to be taught to find healthy ways of expressing anger. They need to know they can say “I’m angry.” They need to be taught the vocabulary for this. When they do, appreciate their voicing it (e.g., “I’m glad you shared this with me”). Ask them to stay in that feeling (e.g., “Why don’t we sit down and talk about why you’re angry?”). Then ask leading questions (e.g., “Why are you angry?” … “What do you need that you’re not getting?). Validate those feelings, and let the youngster know those feelings are theirs, they are human, they are OK (e.g., “Well, it’s normal to feel mad when you don’t get something that you really want!”). Lastly, follow that up with teaching kids that there is no need to become distraught. Instead of jumping to demand an immediate solution, they need to learn the value of owning their feelings, and finding ways of helping themselves feel better.

7. Parents who role model assertive anger expression and practice direct communication of feelings can teach their children effective ways to express emotions.
    If you notice that your child expresses anger indirectly across most situations and seems to fear communicating anger directly, addressing this sooner rather than later will save you hundreds of headaches in the future.

    ==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

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