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Repairing a strained relationship with your teen

Parents often lament the occasions when the relationship with their child becomes strained. It’s hard never to be irritable with a child who is having a meltdown or trying to buy every lolly in the shop. Guilt can be a frequent visitor for parents feeling sorry for being less patient than they may have liked to be.

The good news is that strained parent-child relationships provide a wonderful opportunity for repair that can build resilience in families. Well repaired relationships, in fact, can be even stronger than the relationship before the strain occurred. Repair also teaches children to be able to repair their own
relationships with friends and siblings.

Repairing a strained relationship first requires that a parent take time out to consider his or her own feelings. Conflict with anyone can be unpleasant but when it
is a conflict with your child, it can trigger big emotions. Taking a little time to calm down and assess what the situation may really be about is often very helpful.

The next step is to take time to listen to your child, trying hard not to allow your own emotions to get in the way of seeing your child. Often, children will give subtle clues about their inner feelings that can emerge as disruptive behaviour or emotional meltdowns. Listening carefully can help you to pinpoint where the conflict may have arisen.

The crucial major step in repair is then finding a respectful way to reconnect. For a younger child, this is often possible with child-led play. Joining in with a child’s play and allowing the child to direct you with their imagination, allows a child to safely express feelings, to feel some command of the situation and explore ways
to resolve hurt.

For a young person, driving them to friends or to school for a treat demonstrates a willingness to connect and resolve the conflict. Talking whilst looking out the car window and not at each other can provide a feeling of safety that helps calm the situation.


Visit our parenting HUB

Parenting HUB | For more tips and practical advice on building positive relationships with your child.


The resources in our Parenting HUB are put together by our family specialists who work with families across Sydney every day.  If you would like to know more about this topic, please fill in our 'Contact Us' form and we'll get in touch.  You can also call our professional Parent Line NSW counsellors on 1300 1300 52 for individual advice.

Disclaimer: This article does not give professional advice.  The contents constitute general information of a summary nature of interest and relevance at the time of publication. You should not rely on the contents as professional advice but should seek, formal advice in particular matters relevant to your particular situation

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