7 steps for Difficult Conversations with your teen/young adult child

When there’s something that you need to talk to your son or daughter about and there’s a lot of negative emotion& tension involved, following these steps can change the outcome.  

One person can change the whole tone of a conversation.

Most of us have no idea how to communicate without blame, frustration, defensiveness, or justification, those are our default reactions.

We have a need to be right at all costs and yet our need to be right causes distance in our relationship with our kids.

No one has to be right and no one has to be wrong

Step 1 You start the conversation by being willing to be wrong. Ask yourself: Who cares? Why do you care so much about being right? What is that giving you? It gives you nothing but indulgence in being right.

Step 2 When you start the conversation ask them why they are right. Then listen instead of telling them why you are right. 

Step 3 Put yourself in their shoes. Truly consider their side.  Be curious about it instead of judgmental. 

Step 4 Do not expect your child to do the same thing.

Step 5 Simplify the conversation down to the facts and make sure that you can agree on the facts.

Step 6 You each get a sentence about the facts. You say, “You are making these facts mean,” and then you say what it is, “And I am making these facts mean,” then you say what it is. This is why we disagree. No one is right or wrong. We just have different sentences about the facts in our brain.

Step 7 Talk only in solutions.  Brainstorm to find a solution you both agree to. The goal is to find a solution that makes life better than before you had the problem.

A few other things to consider are body language and tone. 

Body language and tone are processed by the brain before words are

If your tone and body language are tense and angry then that is how your words will be heard no matter what you say. 

Tone cannot be faked, so make sure you coach yourself ahead of time so your tone is in line with your words and intentions. 


Tension can cause you to hold your breath, so remember to pause and take a deep breath when needed.

Boundaries go a long way when it comes to easing tension as well. I never really understood boundaries and found them confusing and hard to follow through on before. If you want to know more about boundaries click here to read the blog I wrote about them.