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For Teens: How to Handle Arguments with Family and Friends

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Sometimes arguments or disagreements with family and friends can be difficult to handle. Learn how to keep an argument from getting out of hand.

Real Life: Family

"My sister is so annoying! She is driving me crazy!"

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Jenny and her sister Sarah fight all the time. Jenny is angry with Sarah because she barges into her room and takes her things without asking. Sarah complains that Jenny yells too much and spends all of her time on the phone.

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Your brothers and sisters can upset you sometimes. You may get angry if they take something that is yours, go into your room, hit you, or bother you when you have friends over. Your older brothers or sisters may try to boss you around and tell you what to do. Your younger brothers or sisters may borrow your things or want to be around you all the time.

When you argue with your friends, you can go home and get away from them. But, when you argue with a brother or sister, they are in your house and you may feel like you can't get away from them. Talking things out and coming up with rules that you and your brothers and sisters agree on will make living together a lot easier.

Here are some ways to handle an argument and help you to avoid fighting with your brother(s) or sister(s):

  • Go for a walk or go to separate rooms in the house, before you lose your temper in an argument.
  • Talk to your parents about what is bothering you. Most likely they will be able to give you advice.
  • Set up your own personal space. Even if you share a bedroom, make a little space (even in a corner of your bedroom) that is all yours. Tell your brother or sister that they need to knock before coming into your bedroom or your special area of a shared bedroom.
  • Respect your brother or sister's personal space too - whether it is their room or a part of your shared bedroom. They will be more likely to show you the same respect in return.
  • Decide ahead of time how you are going to share the phone. For example, you can figure out separate times when each of you can talk to your friends.
  • Take turns with the television. Talk ahead of time about what shows you want to watch, then take turns watching your favorite shows if they are on at the same time.
  • Pick your battles. Try to figure out what is really bothering you. This will help you to know if the problem is worth arguing about. Some issues may be more important than others.

Now that you have some ideas on how to avoid fighting, you may want to think about how to work on building a healthy relationship with your brother or sister. Talking about the things that are bothering you in a calm way really helps. Doing things together, like going on a bike-ride or watching a movie will give you a chance to talk to each other and enjoy the time that you spend together too.

Real Life: Friends

"Why should I do what YOU say?"

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Abby and Maria have been friends for a long time. Abby has been upset because Maria always decides where they are going and what they are going to do. Maria also tells Abby who she can be friends with. Abby feels a lot of pressure to do what Maria tells her to do.

Friendships can be complicated at this time in your life. You may be making new friends while you are trying to keep old friends. One thing that can make any relationship complicated is peer pressure. Peer pressure is when you chose to do something you usually wouldn't do, or you stop doing something that you normally would do because you are worried about what your friends will think. Some friends may pressure you to do something because "everyone else does it," such as making fun of someone. One of the biggest challenges that you may have to face is standing up to a friend.

Here are tips to help you handle a disagreement with a friend:

  • You always have the right to say "no" to your friend whenever you want to. In a healthy friendship, you should not be afraid of losing a friend because you say "no." Good friends should respect your right to say no about anything and not give you a hard time. It is important that you show your friend the same respect when they say no to you.
  • If you and your friend disagree about something or have an argument, it does not mean that you have an unhealthy relationship. You will not always agree with what your friend has to say. As long as you and your friend can talk to one another and listen to what each person has to say, you should be able to work through a disagreement. Healthy friendships involve trust and being able to respect each other's differences.
  • The friends that you make and the relationships you develop will help you learn a lot about yourself. Your friendships may be the most important thing to you right now. You will find out what things you like to do together but more importantly, you will learn about the kind of friends you want to have and the kind of friend you want to be to others.