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Differing opinions between parents and their children are a normal part of life. It could be a misunderstanding about school activities, responsibilities around the house, policies on curfew or just about anything that has been said or done. When you find yourself in conflict with one of your children, try the following:
- State the problem. By stating as factually and simply as possible how the situation affected you, your child will more clearly understand your perspective.
Parent: “I was worried last night when you weren’t home by the 10 o’clock curfew we agreed on.”
- Ask the child to restate the problem. Too frequently disagreements happen because one person did not understand what the other person said. To assure that you are understood, ask your children to repeat what you say using their own words.
Parent: “So I know that you understand what I am concerned about, please tell me what you heard me say.”
- Show respect for the children by asking them to explain their concerns and how they feel.
Parent: “I want to understand your concerns. Please explain them to me so we can get this problem resolved in the fairest way possible.”
- Both parents and children should accept responsibility for what they did to create the conflict. Convey the idea that the two of you are a team working to solve the problem.
Parent: “Maybe I didn’t stress how important the curfew is to me and why I’m concerned when you are late. Let’s talk about it to see if we can figure out how to avoid this problem in the future.”
Child: “I didn’t realize that you were so worried. Next time I’m going to be late, I’ll call.”
- Commit to improve. Both parent and child should honestly state what they are willing to do to prevent future conflicts.
Parent: “In the future, I’ll try to be more clear on what I expect so that we don’t have this problem again.”
Child: “I’ll call if it looks as though I’m going to be more than 15 minutes late so you don’t have to be so worried.”