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Fearsome Escalation

...makes you realize how scary it looks to the outside world
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

How many times has this happened in your family—what started off as a reminder for your teenage son or daughter to do their chores has now turned into a battle of wills? Afterwards, you’re at a loss how you both got into this yelling match. Do you chalk it up to hormones? Do you believe it’s just an act of them trying to shake off the shell of being a child and trying on being a young adult?
Just maybe you’re tired of the constant bickering and want to find better ways for you and your growing teenager to communicate. You may have seen the reports of how an argument over texting in a movie theatre ended with shots fired and a death. You begin to realize that what happens at home carries over to outside life.
Looking at this bigger picture, you start to set a plan to quell emotions when an incident of disagreement happens. You want to start putting into practice a series of actions that are different than your usual knee-jerk reaction to raise your voice:
• It takes two to argue: sometime you don’t realize that a simple disagreement is blowing up until afterwards. However, there are times when you’re in the midst of an argument with your teenager, you take a step back and see that all you’re both doing is butting heads. This is the time to stop adding to the madness. In a calm voice, state that you don’t want to argue and try to resolve your differences. If it appears your child is not willing, then you can suggest you both take a breather and try again when both of you are calmed down.
• You may be too close to the issue: You may not notice that you are sounding like you’re ordering your teenager instead of asking him or her to do something. Then you’re surprised when they take offense. Someone else in your household with an outside perspective can point this tone of voice out to you. Then you can work on your dialogue.
• Less said, easily mended: Just like the old saying goes, the least amount of heated words that are exchanged, the better it is for your relationship.
What needs to be remembered is your teenager is growing up. You want them to be able to be able to handle conflicts in a calm and productive manner. To accomplish this, it requires examples and counseling, if need be. Then, they will be ready to go out in the world with the proper tools.