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How to Hit Reset After Holiday Fight With Teenagers

Dealing With Holiday Problems

Sometimes the holidays are the perfect storm. Travel, stress, the pressure to have a “perfect” holiday. And all that family togetherness can lead to fights with your teenager. The question is: After a fight with your teenager, how can you reboot your holiday?

“Everyone wants their holidays together to be perfect, and not to ruin your family time together,” says Dr. Kristen Wynns, a psychologist with Wynns Family Psychology in Raleigh, North Carolina.

You don’t want to spoil dinner at Grandma’s house by making a scene. But it’s also not a good idea to simply sweep bad behavior under the rug. Here are three ideas for handling holiday problems as they arise.

1. Check Your Own Stress Levels

The holidays can be difficult for everyone. Sometimes our own stress can spill over to our teenagers, causing crankiness all around. If you’re overly stressed by the holiday, take stock of what you can change to make it more fun and relaxing for you and your family.

2. Cool Down

After a fight, have a “cooling off” period when the parent and teen take some time apart, in separate rooms if possible, Wynns advises. “You both will be more productive and less emotional when those physiological responses to a fight have dissipated.”

3. Consider in Advance How You’ll Respond to Unacceptable Behavior

It’s also helpful to consider how you’ll act if your teenager does something you deem unacceptable. “I usually recommend more immediate consequences for unacceptable behavior,” notes Wynns, “but it’s okay for parents to consider whether that would disrupt the flow of the family’s enjoyment of their holiday.”

4. Talk About Expectations in Advance

You might pre-empt some fights by talking together as a family before the holiday begins. Revisit your family’s ground rules and expectations. “Decide which small things you’re going to overlook with the goal of everyone getting along, but also your non-negotiables that are unacceptable,” explains Wynns.

Jane Parent, former editor at Your Teen, is the parent of three.

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