Fight Or Flight? Arguing With Teens

When I was growing up – especially in my Teens I was pretty much left to my own devises. I had very very few rules and was pretty much allowed to do whatever I wanted. I always thought this was because my Mum had a very strict upbringing which she hated. I loved it at the time and took advantage of the situation – as you would. Thinking back I think she was lucky that I didn’t do anything really stupid. I mean I was stupid, I did stupid things but I never got myself into any trouble.

Knowing what I know and having done the things I’ve done I could never parent my children that way. We have rules, we have boundaries and with that comes friction. And arguing. I like to think we are firm but fair. Instead of constantly laying down the law we try to reason with them.

The biggest thing I think I’m yet to master is knowing when to fight them on something and when to let it fly. For example things like when the kids are arguing I don’t always get involved. I let it go and try to get them to sort it out themselves. I think that there is a lot of compromise needed to make things run smoothly, but also I have a few tricks up my sleeve for the simpler tasks. Instead of constantly nagging them to tidy up etc I use a different approach. Here are some of my tricks that seem to help.

Hide things from them – if they always leave things lying around the house move them. For instance if they leave PE trainers dumped in a bag when they get in put them somewhere they won’t look for them i.e your room. Let them search all of their usual dumping grounds without any luck, let them panic a little and then sneakily put them back in the place they should be kept.

The bin bag trick – Kids bedrooms are a common source of conflict especially when they get older and don’t want you to step into their rooms. Mine get three warnings to tidy them up (I don’t expect them to be spotless but I have a limit) before the bin bags come out. If they won’t do it, I will. Very very rare that I actually have to do it – can’t even remember the last time. The sight of/threat of me putting all the mess in the bin gets them to do it. Too mean? Who cares it works.

Talk – We try to diffuse arguments by just simply having a discussion. Admittedly it doesn’t always work and often ends with someone stomping off up the stairs feeling very hard done by, but at least we all got our point across.

Let it go – this is the most important one for me. Just let somethings go. I don’t have the energy or botherdness (is that a word – it should be) to argue about every little thing. I could argue with Madam about the same things every day but sometimes I will just let it slide if it’s not really such a big deal. I mean nobody is really going to get hurt if she keeps hanging her school blazer on the end of bed where I’ve specifically told her not to 1723 times. Likewise she’d not really doing anyone any harm dressing like she’s in the Bahamas then curling up in her quilt for hours on ends. These little battles aren’t really worth my time. We have enough big battles to deal with.

How do you cope with stroppy kids? Any tactics you’d care to share.

After the Playground
17 Comments
  1. 3 months ago
    Kim Carberry

    Yep! I do all of these things….
    My teen couldn’t find her school tie last night…..I knew exactly where it was. Where she left it in her blazer pocket but I left her looking for a good half hour. She needs to be responsible for her things.
    I just have to mention the black bin bags to get my girls moving. hehehe
    Sometimes it is just easier to let things go when it’s harming no one….

    Reply
    • 3 months ago
      TheOneTheyCallMum

      I love the black bin bags thing. I use white for the bins, black are saved for bedrooms!

      Reply
  2. 3 months ago
    Susie / S.H.I.T.

    Loving your bin bag idea – I could fill a few of those up with all the rubbish my kids store in their rooms. I totally agree on choosing your battles. I just don’t have the energy to pick them up on every tiny thing and as you so wisely say, no harm will come to them if we let it slide, but the bigger things do matter. Great post #TweensTeensBeyond

    Reply
    • 3 months ago
      TheOneTheyCallMum

      As they get older I’ve noticed that there are more bigger things 🙁

      Reply
  3. 3 months ago
    Midlife Dramas in Pyjamas

    Sometimes I simply walk away and leave them arguing at the wall. Once they lose their audience it often diffuses them – especially if they’re arguing just for the sake of it. Obviously I never did anything as silly as that when I was a teenager… :-)#TweensTeensBeyond

    Reply
    • 3 months ago
      TheOneTheyCallMum

      Walking off doesn’t work on mine sadly – they just follow me with their sulky faces.

      Reply
  4. 3 months ago
    Jo - Mother of Teenagers

    I have to confess to being a bit bossy. My teens know my rules and generally speaking they don’t like the consequence. If they don’t do something for me however disagreeable it might be then I withdraw a favour for them in return. I am however finding myself increasingly letting things go too. I don’t get quite as hung as I used to about the little things. Life is too short sometimes. Thanks for joining us again. #TweensTeensBeyond

    Reply
    • 3 months ago
      TheOneTheyCallMum

      My latest consequence is taking all the chargers for things away 🙂
      Almost taunting them that they can have their stuff but that it’s totally useless. haha

      Reply
  5. 3 months ago
    Tubbs

    We do all these things. You’ve got to pick your battles . Sometimes we walk off, other times we try and talk about it … It really depends on what’s going on.

    Reply
  6. 3 months ago
    jeremy@thirstdyaddy

    Its so difficult to find that balance – to know which battles to choose. I tend to try and focus on the responsibility and respect fights, but it really does seem like its always something. There are days I think that she is purposefully baiting me into battle #teens,tweens,beyond

    Reply
    • 3 months ago
      TheOneTheyCallMum

      I often think my teens isn’t happy unless she’s got something to moan about. Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Reply
  7. 3 months ago
    Obsessivemom

    The bin bag trick is absolutely priceless. I must try it. You’re right about the ‘letting go’ bit. That is the hardest part but essential to keep our sanity and also to keep connected with our teen. One cannot argue all the time. #TweensTeensBeyond

    Reply
    • 3 months ago
      TheOneTheyCallMum

      Absolutely. I don’t want it to be one long, constant battle with her. For both our sakes.

      Reply
  8. 3 months ago
    Sharon Parry

    I am apparently strict! But, as you say, I have learnt to choose my battles and compromise is the name of the game in my house. I have found that presenting them with several options works because then they feel that they have made the decision and not you. You also have to keep revising and moving the boundaries – they grow so fast! Thanks for sharing this great post at #TweensTeensBeyond

    Reply
  9. 3 months ago
    Nicky Kentisbeer

    I am also the grizzly bear of the house! I do notice with increasing regularity now that rising to the argument, prolongs the argument. Silence and agreement can often be a bit of a curve ball. As Sharon says, you do have to keep changing the boundaries because things are constantly changing. I am also a purveyor of the black bin bag technique – that unfortunately usually results in a bin bag full of things left laying around and a bin bag in the bedroom though! Thanks for sharing with us at #tweensteensbeyond, Nicky

    Reply
  10. 3 months ago
    chickenruby

    #TweensTeensBeyond i just picked my battles carefully, i think hiding things from them is a bit mean, i had an upstairs downstairs box that i’d fill up with things around the downstairs and take up with me at night, the kids then had to take their stuff out and put in anything to go downstairs for the following day

    Reply
  11. 2 months ago
    Clare

    It’s so great reading all the comments here! Lately my solution to my sulky or stroppy teenager is “get your headphones out”. Not so much for her, but for me. If she is driving me crazy with here nonsense, that is usually the best way to mute long enough to get some headspace. On the, *wish I could say rare* occasions, it will run more along the lines of her losing her phone to my handbag, until she can stop it. However, teenagers often have a real struggle with controlling their mouths and don’t know when is the best time to stop talking. So … generally I help her by “you should stop now, otherwise that phone will be in my possession again”. I usually works. Well, most of the time, she will quickly disappear out of sight for the moment lol. For the love of teenagers 🙂

    Reply

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