Teaching Teens To Resolve Conflicts


A Note From the Santa Monica Teen & Family Counselor

There is a saying “Give a man to fish, you feed him for the day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for life.” – Sandra

Your teen is in the process of learning how to tolerate and digest their uncomfortable feelings, so be sure to give them the space to do this. One way you can assist your teen is in inviting them to reflect on their day. You can give them the opportunity to expand their emotional vocabulary and practice emotional intelligence by asking them these 3 questions at bedtime:

  1. What happened today that made you happy?
  2. Did anything happen today that made you sad?
  3. Was there anything that caused you to feel frustrated?

Sometimes parents need to act as their teen’s surrogate frontal lobe by helping them name their feelings, explore options, and figure out if solutions agreed upon take both party’s needs into consideration. For your teen to be able to participate successfully in conflict-resolution discussions with you, they must first:

  • Be able to identify and articulate their concerns.
  • Be able to consider a range of possible solutions.
  • Be able to reflect on the likely outcome of those solutions, as well as the degree to which they are mutually satisfactory.

How can you help your teen gain the skills of flexibility, adaptability, frustration tolerance and conflict resolution? By involving them in the decision-making process in a collaborative way. Explosive behavior occurs in teens when the demands of the environment exceed their capacity to respond adaptively.

If you believe your teen is being overly reactive because of lagging skills and unresolved problems, then offering rewards and punishments may not be the best approach. Solving those problems and teaching those skills would make much better sense!

Adolescent counselor, family therapist and respectful parenting coach for over 10 years based in Santa Monica, California.

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