There have been some parents asking me, “How come my kids fight with me so much?” So, I thought that my blog post for this month would give you some insights on why this happens, and tips on how to create more harmony in the family.
Clashes between tweens, teens and their parents are very common – Kids get angry because they feel parents don’t respect them and aren’t giving them space to do what they like. Parents get angry because they aren’t used to not being in control or they disagree with their child’s decisions.
In a post from NewYork.com it says that, “From slammed doors and screams of “I hate you”, to bedtime battles, children have over 4,200 arguments with their parents by the age of 18, according to a new survey”. The post goes on to say that, “On average, fights or disputes between parent and child typically last for 14 minutes and parents estimate ‘winning’ just over 60 percent of them”. Gosh, that’s a lot of arguing don’t you think!
Eventually, kids grow up and become teens. And part of being a teen is developing your own identity — one that is separate from parents’.
The DISC Four Primary Personality Styles
It’s totally normal for teens to create their own opinions, thoughts, and values about life; it’s what prepares them for adulthood. They have also by then developed their DISC personality style – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance are the names of the four primary styles. And each of these four styles have needs, emotions and fears that drive behavior.
As a parent, if you want to deepen your understanding of how our personality interacts in relationships, and can cause fights in the family, you need to understand these four styles. Here’s a quick overview of each styles’ needs, emotions and fears:
So, as you can see the needs, emotions and fears for each of the Primary DISC Styles are very different. Let me give you an example of how a disagreement might start based on these four DISC Styles.
Let’s say your DISC Style is a Primary C (Compliance) and your Kiddo is a Primary D (Dominance). It’s the weekend and you want the family to sit down for a family dinner, but your teen Peter wants to grab some take away with his friends.
Here’s how it might all turn into an argument. You say, “Peter, your mum wants you to stay home tonight, as she’s cooking a family dinner, ok!” Peter responds by saying, “Dad you could have told me last night, I’ve made plans with my friends to catch up for take away, the family dinner will have to be another night!” Then you reply by saying, “No Peter, I don’t want your mum to think that I didn’t tell you, so you need to be there, and don’t argue with me, I’m your father, so do as you’re told!” By now Peter is starting to get impatient and he says raising his voice, “Look Dad it’s not my fault you didn’t give me enough warning, and I don’t want to let my friends down, because I’m picking them up in my car. It’s my life and I’ll decide when I stay home for a family dinner, ok!”
Now, can you guess where this is all heading? Yep, to a full blown argument and power struggle. The C father doesn’t want to be seen as making a mistake with his wife, and the D son wants to be in control of his own decisions.
The one thing that I’d like to mention here, is to never use your style as an excuse for behavior. The DISC Model is situational, so depending on what situation you find yourself in, will depend on how you act. So, don’t you think it’s important to know first what style you are, and second, how to adapt your style in different situations – arguments, power struggles, and stressful situations. The answer is, “Yes!”
Adapt your Style for Harmony in the Family
“Sandra, adapting my style when I’m in different situations isn’t that easy”, I hear you saying to your friends. I know for some styles it can be difficult to adapt. The D Style parent sees their environment as unfavorable, therefore has a need to control tasks, so trusting others doesn’t come easy. They are also extroverted and have no trouble telling their kiddos how to get things done – “Do this and do it now!” This is also true for the C Style parent, however they have a need to control the quality of how tasks are performed, and also find it difficult to trust and show emotions, as they have a tendency to be introverted. Can you see now, how arguments happen at home with your kids?
So, the FIRST TIP that I have for you, is to take my free assessment that gives you a DISC Summary Report to learn what your Natural Style is. By the way you also have an Adapted Style as well – when you’re at work or in an unfamiliar environment. Your free PeopleSmart DISC Summary Report holds the key to understanding yourself, and how you tend to behave. It’s a great place to find tips for understanding the gift that is YOU. Reading other people’s styles is a skill you can use for the rest of your life. It becomes easier and easier the more you practice it.
My TIP NUMBER TWO is to invite your 12yrs and over tween or teen to take their free assessment as well. Naturally, we each want to be able to say, “My style is the BEST!” But the truth is that ALL styles are needed in life. No one style is either “Good” nor “Bad.” And once you both understand the needs and emotions that are driving your behavior, you can then adapt your style to the situation – less fighting and more harmony.
My TIP NUMBER THREE is that you both have to be committed to working through any conflict or arguments that happen, without it becoming a power struggle – parent vs. child. You see, commitment is all about caring deeply about a person, a goal or a belief. It’s having a willingness to give our all and keep the promises we make. Without commitment we change our minds and give up easily when things get too hard – especially when your kiddo is yelling at you, and says, “I hate you!” Then we may give up on the people that we care about, especially if they disappoint us or make a mistake. So, be committed to not fighting with your child and teach them to also be committed to working through any disagreements in a kind and caring way.
My TIP NUMBER FOUR is to establish family ground rules. For these to work though everyone in the family must be committed to them. And they need to be simple, clear, measurable and observable – what can be seen. Establishing family ground rules is perhaps the most important way to keep children feeling safe, both physically and emotionally.
When setting ground rules, make sure you have no more than five or six at any one time, and they need to be specific. Also keep them positive and base them on your family’s values, such as peacefulness, respect, compassion, consideration, responsibility and kindness – family virtues. When communicating, also use the language for each virtue, and if a ground rule is broken there needs to be a relevant consequence, that is set up in advance. Here’s an example of an irrelevant and relevant consequence taken from the The Family Virtues Guide by Linda Kavelin Popov.
- Irrelevant example: “If you hit another child, you will be grounded for a week”.
- Relevant example: “If you forget to be peaceful and hit another child, you must stop playing and take time-out”.
Assume that children will test the limits. A High D child will definitely do this because they have a need to be in control. We can all have a bad day. Regardless of the reason you need to be consistent. It’s about children learning and trusting that you say what you mean.
I hope you like these tips enough to try them, as I know they’ll support you to work through any conflict with your kiddos in a more kind and empathetic way. I’d love to read your comments about what you liked about your Free DISC Summary Report and if your tween or teen enjoyed learning about their style too. At the end of the day it’s important not to get discouraged. You are not alone. There are many parents working on using these tips, and their relationships are changing for the better. Yours can, too. Oh, and come on over and ask to join our Facebook group Parents with Tweens, Teens and Anything in Between, for inspiration and support from myself and like minded parents. While you’re there you also might like to participate in our Five Day Journey for creating a more kind and peaceful world.