About once a week in my coaching work, a family comes to me declaring that their kid is disrespectful, yelling, even cursing at them. While I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I approve of rude behavior, the truth is that learning to disagree, to speak your mind, to hold your own convictions, to manage and contain your feelings, and to negotiate a compromise are among life’s most important lessons. Our teens struggle with calibration: how much anger, how loud the voice, how dramatic the tears. This isn’t just about living in your family; it has to do with room mates, husband/wife, boss, advisor, secretary….getting along in this world!
I’m pretty sure that I am not the only parent who has sunk to new lows arguing with my teen! No show of hands needed. But it helps if we see such occasions as opportunities to learn. I often ask parents: How would you like for your teen to express disagreement? What is an acceptable way to challenge a limit? Even a dinner conversation about what do we do when we get mad is good practice. I’m betting that what mom does is different from what dad does, which will be different from what son does. The value of the conversation is that our kids realize that everyone gets”mad” and has to learn to curb it to accomplish important goals (like keeping your job!).
I was gratified to hear this piece on NPR and think you’ll gain from it too. Maybe even listen with your kid!