by Dr. Shanthi Thomas
Teenage is a challenging time both for parents and the child. This is the transition stage between childhood and adulthood, and thus is turbulent. In many families, during this time a lot of arguments and heated discussions will take place between the parents and children. This is especially true in the case of mothers and daughters. Such arguments, if not handled wisely, can lead to a weakening of the bond between parents and teenagers. Therefore, it is important to know how to win back your teenage daughter after an argument, so that the bond remains intact.
As they say, time heals everything. With time, people forget and forgive. Time gives us perspective. After a heated argument with your teenage daughter, you have to allow some time for things to cool down. In most cases, both parties can get back to their previous closeness after this cooling down period. In some cases however, forgiveness is difficult for both parties, and they allow the disharmony to continue to such an extent that there is a breakdown of relationship. Parents should foresee this and avoid getting into that trap.
When there is an issue between parents and children, maturity and wisdom are needed to deal with it. Generally speaking, children do not display mature behavior at these times. Thus it is up to the parents to deal with the issue in a mature manner, and to know that, ultimately, it is the relationship that matters, not winning and losing an argument.
There are parents who believe in avoiding confrontations at all costs, opting to give in to the child’s demands. In teenage, there are lots of areas in which confrontations may be needed. The daughter might want to go out at night with a friend, but the mother might forbid it due to safety concerns. Or the daughter might want to wear something that is considered by her as fashionable, to which the mother might object on the grounds that it is too revealing and immodest. If there is a good reason to say ‘no’, parents have to do that. Parents do not have to give in to unreasonable demands fearing confrontations.
The ‘silent treatment’ or passive aggressiveness is in fact a continuation of the argument in another form, and is to be avoided. Passive aggressiveness is particularly harmful to children because they are the vulnerable party in the power relationship with parents, and hence they have to walk on egg shells not knowing what to expect, if you get passive aggressive.
Remember, you are not apologizing for doing something wrong. You are apologizing for hurting your child. You can tell her that you are sorry for having said something that hurt her, and that it was never your intention to do so. Chances are that such an apology on your part will encourage your daughter also to apologize to you for losing her temper at you. What is important is that you do not let your ego get in the way of making up with your daughter.
Embrace your daughter. Hugs and kisses are a huge part of making up after an argument. Studies show that hugs reduce stress. When we touch, hug, kiss or even just sit close to a person, the levels of a chemical in our body called Oxytocin, which scientists call the ‘cuddle hormone’ increases. This causes more happiness, less pain and less anxiety.
After apologizing and hugging your daughter, what you need to do next is to say that no matter what, you love her with all your heart. This is something that should be repeated often, especially after an argument. With love comes acceptance of your daughter as she is, without judgment and with the understanding that your intention is to help her through life, not to be an impediment to her happiness.
After apologizing, hugging and saying you love her, do not go back to the argument and try to justify your position. Do not revisit the argument. The past is past, and there is no benefit in trying to go back to it and see who won the argument. You will do well after an argument to move on with life, to look forward, not backward. Move on to the next task of the day instead of brooding over the past.
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