Parent/Adolescent Problem-Solving and Discipline
Early adolescence marks the emergence for most youths of formal operational thought. Abilities to think and reason logically mean that many teens now have the ability to present logical arguments to their parents. Disagreements about issues such as curfew, dating, and chores frequently reflect an adolescent’s growing desire for individuation; some conflict between adolescents and their parents is normal during this adjustment period. Conflict is heightened when adolescents wish to obtain autonomy in decision making at a faster rate than their parents feel they are capable of handling responsibly. Problems also occur when parents fail to become involved in the process, allowing the adolescent too much autonomy in decision making.
Although some conflict is normal at this developmental stage, the manner in which these disputes are handled determines whether these issues resolve or escalate to clinically significant proportions. When one small problem after another accumulates (without resolution), it may snowball and change the way we feel about each other. The longer you wait to discuss these issues, the greater the likelihood of negative ruminating and resentment. Successful treatment relies heavily on building skills in family problem-solving, communication, and conflict resolution. Though families often attempt these techniques on their own, many find that the objective support of a trained therapist helps to maintain fairness, consistency, and willingness to change.