Agree to step away. Agree to temporarily stop talking if things don’t go well. Wait until both individuals can talk in a calm, direct fashion. Use appropriate body language. How you position yourself physically while you talk can send important messages about your attitudes or express something you are not trying to convey. Don’t look away or slouch down. Nod your head in agreement. Avoid debate. Sometimes a teen feels he or she must “defend” a position. Then the conversation turns into a mini-debate. If you find yourself debating, try suggesting that you both approach matters from a different angle. Also, avoid statements that begin with “you” (“You did this…”). They make the other person feel attacked. Get Behind 21 Numerous studies show the 21 drinking age law has reduced underage drinking and saved thousands of lives. Research in the U.S. and Europe has never shown any benefit to drinking at a younger age or that teens could be safely “taught” to drink. On the contrary, they show that attempting to teach teens to drink results in increased binge drinking.

You might take your child to lunch or out for some ice cream where you could both sit down to talk and listen to one another. Communicate directly. Pick a time to speak when you can have each other’s undivided attention. Don’t discuss important things when one of you is absorbed in another activity, such as reading the newspaper, watching television, or texting. Emphasize common goals. Remind teens that you are on their side. Emphasize common goals, and use the shared goals as a basis for your guidance and suggestions. (For example, remind your teen that you both want him or her to stay healthy and safe.) Avoid communication “stoppers.” These are single statements that shut down any response. They are often threatening, such as “I better

not catch you drinking or else.” Recognize conflict is natural.

We are not identical to one another. We all have different beliefs and values; therefore, disagreement is a natural thing. We can use conflict as an opportunity to grow and learn about each other.


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