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Family Checkup

Question 3: Negotiation

Are you able to negotiate emotional conflicts with your teenager and work toward a solution?

Negotiating solutions offers parents a way to work together to solve problems; make changes; promote and improve cooperation; and teach youth how to focus on solutions rather than problems, think through possible outcomes of behavior, and develop communication skills.

Destructive Behavior and Negotiation

  • Negative example: Dad gets angry
  • Positive example: Dad stays calm

Set Up for Success


  • Select an unemotional or regularly scheduled time (not in the middle of a problem).


  • Choose a neutral place with few distractions.


  • Choose problems that are small and specific.
  • State the problem neutrally.
  • Recognize the other person’s positive behavior.
  • Accept part of the responsibility for the problem.
  • Restate what you hear, show understanding, and stop if you get too upset.

The Steps to Problem-Solving

Problem-Solving Traps

  • Don’t try to solve hot issues.
  • Don’t blame the other person or put the other person down.
  • Don’t defend yourself—try to let it go.
  • Don’t make assumptions about another person’s intentions.  
  • Don’t bring up the past—avoid using words such as “always” and “never.”
  • Don’t lecture—a simple statement will get your point across better.

Brainstorm—open your mind to all ideas:

  • Try to come up with three ideas each.
  • Any idea is good—even ones that seem silly.
  • Take turns coming up with ideas.

Evaluate your list of ideas:

  • Go through and list the pluses and minuses of each idea.

Choose a solution:

  • Combine ideas if needed.
  • All of you should agree on the chosen solution.

Follow Up

  • Check in with each other after you have tried your solution a couple of times to see how it is working.
  • If it isn’t working, go back to your list of ideas.
  • If necessary, start over with some more brainstorming.

Practice Skills

Video: Neutral Problem Statements

When making neutral problem statements:

  • Be brief.
  • Be specific.
  • Use a neutral tone of voice.
  • Lead with something positive.

Video: Negotiating Solutions


Negotiating Steps:

  • Make neutral problem statements.
  • Generate possible solutions.
  • Evaluate solutions.
  • Choose a solution.
  • Follow up to see if it is working.

This page was last updated August 2015