How can I stop fighting with my teen?
Real Mom Problem
“My son will not stop fighting with me all the time. Sometimes I just don't know what to do -- I feel like I want to bang my head against the wall!”
- 1. Be an example and always treat others with respect; demand the same from your teens
- 2. Stay calm; take a deep breath before responding and walk away for a minute if you have to
- 3. Try putting yourself in your teen's shoes
- 4. Allow your teen to be angry but give them tools for expressing their anger in more appropriate ways
Real Mom Solutions
Teens are tough, especially when they fight you on every little thing! Read on for great mom-to-mom advice on how to keep the peace between you and your teen.
Don't Give Your Teen an Audience
My son has said mean things to me. At first I let it hurt my feelings, but then I started telling him "Hmmm.... okay, well you know how you wanted me to take you to your girlfriend's house on Saturday? Well, that's not happening now." Or "Okay, you know how you wanted me to iron that black shirt for you? That's not happening now." I didn't raise my voice when I responded. I just stated it matter-of-factly, and I didn't give in. Pretty soon, he started realizing how much I did for him, and how much he missed it when I stopped doing it, and his attitude started improving.
Sometimes my kids push those buttons. It's usually a very interesting evening afterwards. One time, my youngest daughter, 15, decided she was going to run away because I told her to fix her funky attitude. So I went in, saw what she was taking and said "okay, let's go." We went to the homeless shelter so she could see where she would be staying with $1.25 in her pocket. Then we drove through where the hookers hang out so she could see what she'd be doing to make money. By that time she was about to be sick and asked if we could go home. She promised never to do that again. My boyfriend just knew I was about to kill her! But I didn't lay a hand on her until she collapsed in my arms.
I know at 14 they are getting crap from other kids at school and are hormonal and such, but I shut fighting down and always have. All I have to do is say "Excuse me?" in the mom tone and she changes her tune. Sorry, when I feed, clothe, house, and take care of you, I'll be damned if you will disrespect me, or anyone for that matter, without just cause.
I just learned to LAUGH in my son's face, turn, and walk away. It does let him know his crap isn't working and you couldn't care less. I also used to laugh at our son and tell him that he hadn't had a tantrum like this since he was four years old, so that's the age he'll be treated. My point is, if he has no "audience," he has no case. I learned in a hurry to be one step ahead.
How would you act if your son was five years old having a temper tantrum? Start doing that.
Stay Calm and Respectful
The most hurtful thing to me is "I hate you," to which I simply smile and say "Oh yeah? Well I love you and there's nothing you can do about it!" It really irks my teens because they don't have a comeback for it and it shows them that, no matter what, I'm always going to love them.
Be calm. At 17 years old, he is stretching his independent wings and getting frustrated that he's not flying yet. I know that understanding this doesn't change things, but it may keep you from pulling your hair out. Have a talk with him. Tell him that he has no respect from you and you have no respect from him. You want to earn that respect and you want him to earn it. Don't argue and don't fight him. If he wants to argue, then the discussion is over. Walk away calmly and with strength. Don't let him rattle you. You choose to feel guilty, and if you do, remember that the guilt is just an emotion. Emotions lie to you so don't rely on them. Stop fighting him! Walk away. Stay calm and do not give him any ammunition. Otherwise you haven't earned his respect.
I just try to keep my cool when a fight is brewing. I have learned to choose my words carefully; my son is extremely literal.
My sister gave me great advice: NEVER ENGAGE A CRAZY PERSON. If a lunatic on the street got into it with you, would you engage them? No, you would stay calm and be as matter-of-fact as possible. Consider your teens crazy people. Their brains are not fully developed and they are emotional hurricanes. When they are upset, I am all business and stay calm. It is very difficult to yell at someone who is not yelling back. Staying calm diffuses the situation much quicker than any other method. Plus, I don't have to be sorry later for overreacting or slapping my kid in the mouth! A quote I often tell my kids is "Anger is not an argument." They are not robots; they are going to be upset sometimes. If they need to go to their room to calm down, drink some water, cry, or roll their eyes, that is part of the body processing anger. After a storm has passed, we discuss better ways to deal with situations so that they learn from them. They are even encouraged to tell us if something hurt their feelings or if we could handle things better. Since they are improving in their anger/disappointment management as they get older, I am satisfied that our approach is working.
When your son starts yelling, maybe it's best if you step away until he calms back down and then try to address the situation as calmly as possible.
Meet your son on an even playing field as equals. A little respect goes a long way, I have found.
Consider Getting Professional Help
My daughter's actions when she was a younger teen were very hurtful and disrespectful. Once we put everything into perspective with her through counseling and doing a better job at openly communicating with her, things got much, much better. For the most part she is a pretty respectful and calm kid now that she's 18.
I would suggest family therapy to learn to communicate effectively with one another.
Remind Yourself it's Likely a Phase
I have a 13-year-old daughter and some days she just about makes me crazy! We just have to keep telling ourselves that "this too shall pass" and they will grow up and become more mature and easier to deal with.
Driving you crazy is a 15-year-old's job description. If she is fighting and arguing with you constantly, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. If she is shutting you out, get professional help. I survived my daughter's teenage years and now at 20 she is mostly delightful.
My older daughter said some really hurtful things to me. She would try to hurt me and push my buttons with her words. For a long time I was very guarded with her because she would only ever talk nicely to me if she wanted something from me. I am happy to say it was a phase. She's 27 now, and we have a wonderful relationship. When my younger daughter was getting ready for prom this year, my older daughter called me and said she wanted to apologize for treating me so badly on her senior prom night years ago. Truthfully, I had forgotten about it until she brought it up. Time heals many things. And fortunately, she grew up and she realized that everything I ever did that pissed her off was done because I loved her. She was a rough one, though! They don't mean it. They are just immature and selfish, and us moms get the brunt because deep down they know that we will still be there.
My oldest son and I had a terrible fight when he was 17. He was acting rude, being disrespectful, and just causing so much stress in the house. We got into it. He told me he hated me and that he waited 17 years to tell me I sucked as a mother! He absolutely crushed me. I always felt mothering was the one thing I was doing well in my life. It escalated and my son told me "I'm outta here; I hate you and refuse to listen to your shit." He left for 3 days. He came home and asked to move back in. His father informed him of the house rules and that IF he could follow them he was welcome; if not NO he was not welcome. My son apologized many times. We have talked about this many times. 8 years later his words still hurt. I really began questioning my parenting after his hateful words. He told me he didn't mean them, but said them because he knew how hurtful they would be. 17 was a very challenging year.