Steps to De-Escalate Conflict With Your Teen
- Regulate your own emotions and physical sensations. Conflict often brings about rapid breathing and heart rate which can help to intensify your emotions and reactions. When you sense yourself becoming worked up, purposely slow your breathing and focus on relaxing your muscles. This simple practice can help you to be more in control of your own actions and thoughts.
- Lower your voice when you hear your teen raising his voice. This can be an unexpected move that presents an example for your child. When conflicts become shouting matches, parents and teens often try to outdo the other. If you take the initiative to simply become quieter, your teenager may follow your lead.
- State your thoughts and feelings in the form of "I" statements rather than "you" statements. Saying "I feel hurt over the way you spoke to me yesterday" sounds less blaming than, "You were such a jerk yesterday." "You" statements can make teens feel defensive, which can escalate conflict.
- Offer a gentle touch if your teen is open to it. Reach out and touch her on the shoulder or arm to remind her that you love her. If your child moves away, don't force it. However, sometimes a loving touch can soothe angry emotions.
- Suggest that you take a break from the conflict if you sense that it is getting out of control. Don't mandate your teen's next actions if possible, but suggest an activity that might divert his attention. For example, you could say, "Why don't you go shoot some hoops for a while, and I'll go for a walk? We'll talk about this in an hour from now."
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