How to Handle Arguments with Teenage Foster Children

Dealing with arguments with teenagers is never easy. As children grow into adolescents, it's normal for them to start asserting their independence more and questioning rules and boundaries. This can lead to more conflicts at home. While arguments are inevitable, there are constructive ways for parents to handle them, whether these are your own children, or you are caring for foster children.

Stay Calm

First, try to stay calm when a disagreement arises. Raising your voice or getting visibly upset will only escalate the situation. Take a few deep breaths before responding. Then use an even, non- confrontational tone to explain your perspective. Pick your battles carefully - not every minor issue needs to turn into a major argument. Consider which rules are non-negotiable for safety and values reasons, and which other areas have room for compromise or discussion.

Explain Your Reasoning

When setting rules and limits, explain the reasons behind them to your teen. They are more likely to comply when they understand the logic. For example, explain how a curfew helps ensure they get proper sleep for school the next day. Make sure the limits are age-appropriate - as they get older, grant them more independence and autonomy where it makes sense. If you are fostering in Coventry and are unsure about whether a teenager should be granted more independence, speak to your agency for advice. Most foster agencies have lots of resources to help foster carers in their journey.

Listen to Your Teen’s Point of View

Listen without judgement when your teen shares their viewpoint. Even if you disagree, validate that you hear where they are coming from. This builds trust and models good communication. Ask curious questions to understand their perspective more, rather than just lecturing. Stick to "I feel" statements to avoid causing shame or defensiveness.

Find Common Ground

Look for areas of common ground and agreement to help diffuse conflict. Reinforce shared goals and values, like wanting your teen to be safe, healthy and responsible. Note areas where you are willing to negotiate and compromise. Maybe your teen wants a later curfew or more freedom with friends. Discuss what needs to happen for you to feel comfortable with that and find a solution you both feel good about.

Stick to the Topic at Hand

Stay focused on the current topic at hand and avoid dredging up past issues or mistakes. Stick to resolving this particular disagreement, rather than bringing up every grievance you have with their behavior. Similarly, don't make sweeping generalizations or accusatory statements. This will only put your teen on the defensive.

Take a Step Back When Necessary

Know when to take a break if things get heated. Set a time to revisit the discussion once you've both calmed down and can think more clearly. Model apologizing if you lose your cool or say something you regret. This shows your teen how to take responsibility and repair strained relationships.

Finally, remind your teen that even when you disagree, you still care about them. Arguments happen in all families, but you will work through issues respectfully together. Keeping your relationship strong is the priority, not "winning" the fight. With patience, empathy and good communication, you can navigate this challenging but normal phase of the teenage years.

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