Tired of your smart-mouthed teen arguing with everything you say? According to a study by Live Science, all that back talk may actually have some benefit.
A group of 184 seventh- and eighth-graders from urban and suburban areas in the Southeast were surveyed along with their friends and parents. The kids were asked questions about drug and alcohol use, social acceptance, and their friendships. They were also observed discussing an issue with their mother that could prompt argument such as money, grades, or household rules.
Teenagers that showed an ability to productively argue — in which the teen tries to reason with their mother through structured argument in place of whining or name-calling — exhibited the same ability when faced with peer pressure. The study also showed that while teens with friends who used drugs were more at risk of doing the same, those who learned how to assert themselves at home were less likely to pick up the habit than more timid teens.
While the study does rely on the kids’ self-report of drug and alcohol use and observed arguments between parent and child may not be as true to life as they are in the privacy of their home, the take-away of the study makes good sense. Teens that stand their ground in fights with their parents are better-practiced and more likely to do so when faced with the pressure to try drugs or alcohol.
So the next time an argument with your stubborn teen leaves you wanting to rip your hair out, remember that they are just as likely to mouth off to a friend pressuring them to make a bad decision as they are at you and your ridiculously early curfew.
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