Teach teens to talk back, it's good for them

Teens who voice their reasoned opinions at home are found to be better at negotiating with other people outside of the family's nucleus. Photo / Thinkstock
Teens who voice their reasoned opinions at home are found to be better at negotiating with other people outside of the family's nucleus. Photo / Thinkstock

Teens who talk back are less likely to cave to peer pressure or experiment with drugs and alcohol, a new study suggests.

Argumentative teens also turn out to be better negotiators and can "learn to be taken more seriously," US researchers found, encouraging folks to pick fights or teach their kids how to argue effectively.

Scientists from the University of Virginia observed and recorded 150 13-year-olds from various backgrounds, arguing with their mothers, Medical Daily reported. They then quizzed the teenagers three years later about their lives and experiences with drugs and alcohol.

Teens who displayed confidence and used logic to back up their statements were more likely to fight off negative peer pressure and 40 per cent more likely to deny offers of drugs and alcohol, compared to those who didn't bicker with their parents.

The study's lead author, psychology professor Joseph Allen, said the connection between resisting peer pressure and a teenager's ability to argue was "surprising".

"It turns out that what goes on in the family is actually a training ground for teens in terms of how to negotiate with other people," Prod Allen told the Charlottesville Daily Press.

Joanna Chango, a clinical psychology graduate working on the study, said that although it seemed "counterintuitive to tell parents to let their teens argue with them," this study proves these skills help children have a greater sense of autonomy.

"We tell parents to think of those arguments not as nuisance but as a critical training ground," Prof Allen said.

- HERALD ONLINE

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