Ep 5: Resolving Conflicts with Teens
Lianna Tsangarides, a family therapist and leading expert in Dialectical Behavior Therapy points out that teens are struggling with some significant inner conflicts. Lianna teaches us how to reduce external type of conflict as a parent by understanding more about the inner type of conflict.
Full Show Notes
Let’s face it: conflict is a way of life when you have a teenager in the house. They can often seem to be Jedi Masters at turning every small thing into an argument. But in this episode, Lianna Tsangarides points out that there are also significant inner conflicts that teens are struggling to deal with. For instance, on one hand they want independence and autonomy but on the other hand they still need help from their parents.
Lianna teaches us how you can reduce this external type of conflict as a parent by understanding more about the inner type of conflict.
She works through a specific example of how you could handle a conflict with a teenager and explains that there are different levels of validation. To stop conflict in its tracks, use the deepest level of validation at the start of an important conversation.
1. How to slow things down when your teen is acting really intense
“I hear this is really important to you. I want to give it the time and the thought that it deserves. I’m going to get back to you. And I’m really glad you came and talked to me about this.”
2. Enforce a teen’s curfew using a value of Integrity:
3. Enforce a teen’s curfew using a value of Health:
4. Enforce a teen’s curfew using a value of Safety:
5. What to say after your teen yells or calls you the WORST:
6. When your teen asks to come home later tonight, speak to the unspoken feeling:
Step-by-step guides for applying the ideas from this interview
1. Validate Your Teen’s Emotions Without Agreeing:
Practice validating the intense emotions behind your teenager’s statements without agreeing that the statement is true. Lianna told me this is one of the key skills to de-escalate any conflict with a teenager. When teens get angry, scared, frustrated, or down, they can lash out and say things that are meant to be hurtful, like, “You’re the worst mother in the world.” You can validate this statement without agreeing with it. For instance, you might say, “I can hear that you’re really angry with me right now. It sounds like you really don’t want to be around me.” Of course, you won’t know exactly what the specific emotion is that your teen is feeling but Lianna says not to worry about this. She recommends just taking a guess at the emotion. Getting it right is not as important as just trying to empathize. To practice validating the emotions behind hurtful things your teen might say, try the following exercise. Read the following statements your teen might make and try to write down how you could respond, focusing on the emotion rather than the literal words…”I hate you!” “You are ruining my life.” “You’re so embarrassing.” “Maybe I’ll run away. Then you’ll be sorry.” “I can’t stand your voice. Stop talking.” “How many times do I have to tell you? Leave me alone!” “Don’t you care about me at all?” “This is the worst day of my life.”
2. Take a “Time Out” Next Time Things Start to Heat Up:
About Lianna Tsangarides
A practicing therapist in Connecticut, Lianna specializes in working with people who are struggling with negative self-talk. She is a leading expert in a therapeutic technique called Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT, which focuses on teaching people the skills to handle conflicting thoughts and feelings.
In addition, Lianna is a blogger who writes truly exceptional posts about how to use DBT skills to deal with these types of conflicts in our own lives. One of my favorites is called Stop Walking on Eggshells Around Your Teen: The Three C’s of Parenting.
You can also find Lianna on Twitter here.