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25 April 2014
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You are here: BBC Science > Human Body & Mind > The Mind > Emotions and instincts

Arguing with teenagers

Most teenagers row with their parents. They argue as much as couples whose relationship is breaking down. Luckily, it is extremely unlikely that rows during teenage years will cause family relationships to break down permanently.

A boy shouting

The conflict, although frequent, is generally less serious than people think.

Some researchers see rows as a positive event. When young people argue with their parents, they are learning the art of negotiation, an essential social skill for later life. Teenagers certainly seem to know how far they can push their parents. When they see they are near breaking point they usually back off.

I need some space...

Children need to make boundaries between themselves and their parents if they are to become adults. They want to be free of their parents' control and take charge of their own life.

One of the first signs of change many parents notice is that their children start to withhold information from them. This can be hard for them to cope with after years of being fully responsible for everything that happens in their child's life. They can be reassured that research indicates most teenagers still value their parents opinion and will turn to them for help when they are in trouble.

You're not going out in that!

A girl putting make up on

Teenagers often see things quite differently to their parents, and this can cause arguments. Adults would see an issue such as the clothes their children should wear, for example, as a matter of convention. They understand that there are certain rules people follow. For a teenager, this is a straightforward matter of personal freedom. To them, wearing what they want to, without reference to anybody else, is a sign of their independence and maturity.

Why could teenage rebellion be a sign of a healthy personality?


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