Thursday, January 5, 2012

Teenage tantrums...Healthy?

I just read an informative entry in Shots blog, which discusses very interesting finding of a study done by researchers at the University of Virginia.  The findings were published in the journal of Child Development, and they focused on the importance and benefits of children's arguments.  Th study reported that children who fight and argue with their parents were more assertive and independent in the future.  Those children were also able to confidently stand by their ideals and morals, but (and that's a big but), only if parents direct them well during these arguments.

Joseph P. Allen, the lead psychologist in this study, explained that parents should consider these arguments not as a nuisance but as a "critical training ground".  Here is a small synopsis of the blog entry by Patti Neighmond:

Teens should be rewarded when arguing calmly and persuasively and not when they indulge in yelling, whining, threats or insults, he says.
In Allen's study, 157 13-year-olds were videotaped describing their biggest disagreement with their parents. The most common arguments were over grades, chores, money and friends. The tape was then played for both parent and teen.
"Parents reacted in a whole variety of ways. Some of them laughed uncomfortably; some rolled their eyes; and a number of them dove right in and said, 'OK, let's talk about this,'" he says.
It was the parents who said wanted to talk who were on the right track, says Allen. "We found that what a teen learned in handling these kinds of disagreements with their parents was exactly what they took into their peer world," with all its pressures to conform to risky behavior like drugs and alcohol.
Allen interviewed the teens again at ages 15 and 16. "The teens who learned to be calm and confident and persuasive with their parents acted the same way when they were with their peers," he says. They were able to confidently disagree, saying 'no' when offered alcohol or drugs. In fact, they were 40 percent more likely to say 'no' than kids who didn't argue with their parents.
From my own perspective I can completely understand and agree with these findings.  As some of you followers might have already have read, I commonly say "every opportunity is a learning opportunity".  These arguments are bound to happen, and it is your choice as a parent to use your strength and power to instill fear or instill respect.  Fear will only last for a short period of time, and then encourage lying and escapist behavior; respect will be lifelong with the added benefit of building your child's character. 
Follow the link for the full blog entry.

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