Make conflict constructive

Father and daughter arguing at dining table

Being involved in family conflict can be a confusing and worrying experience for your child. By demonstrating your openness to family conflict management and resolution, you’ll be role-modelling the right skills for your child.

Managing conflict with your teenager

Below are some tips to try when effectively managing conflict with your teenager.

  • Talk about it. Timing is important – wait until everybody has calmed down, and talk to your child about how the conflict has affected them.

  • No personal attacks. Don’t shout or name call. Avoid using communication that blames the other person.

  • Take responsibility. If you’ve said something that has offended your child, own it and apologise.

  • Listen actively. Really try to understand your teenagers’ perspective. Asking for feedback on the situation and how you approached it can be very powerful, and show you’re openness to understand their feelings.

  • Focus on the issue as hand. Don’t bring up old issues from the past.

  • Manage negative emotions. Try not to get lost in emotions or take things too personally. This can be hard, and timing the conversation once the heat of the situation dies down in important.

  • Look for growth opportunities. Is there anything that can be learned from the situation? For example, has it made expectations clearer, or have you learned something about each other from the situation. Find and talk about the positives.

Minimising family conflict

Once you have resolved the immediate impacts of conflict, you can try some things to help with minimising and managing family conflict and improve relationships going forward.

  • Organise family meetings where everyone gets a chance to speak their mind and help work out solutions to problems.

  • Set limits and consequences for your child so that they’re aware of consequences for their choices in behaviour. Consistent boundaries assist children in feeling secure in their environment.

  • Agree to disagree with your child. Help them understand that a natural part of growing up is having differences in opinions and that it is ok that you don’t agree all the time.

  • Establish family traditions, routines and rituals to encourage family members to feel connected. This may be a regular movie night at home, a family games night or cooking dinner together.

  • Stay connected to your child by showing interest in their activities, hobbies and friends. Try to spend some enjoyable one-on-one time with them to help strengthen your relationship.

  • If you’ve tried the steps above and the conflict continues or family members do not feel safe then it might be time to seek professional help.

Did you find what you needed?

  • Yes - Read this story about a teenager's experience with family conflict.