I am a father of teenagers. They both fight a lot. Verbal duels often lead to physical fights. They are not close to each other When I support one, the other accuses me of taking his side. As a result, there is a communication gap between both of them. How do I deal with them?
— A confused parent
Most parents go through a similar situation.Firstly, you need to ensure that they stop being physically aggressive. You should tell them that no matter what is the provocation, the one who resorts to physical violence will be punished and that you will not listen to any explanation. Be consistent and firm.
However, do not resort to harsh punishment. You can also create an environment where both of them can play together without fighting. Get them involved in group activities with other children and reward them for good behaviour. These can be books or games that they like.
Make them understand that they should help each other and not compete. That they should spend more time with other and communicate more often. Tell them that they can achieve big things through cooperation rather than fighting all the time.
Children have the tendency to accuse parents for taking sides. Do not let that effect you. Talk to them separately. Discuss how their behaviour affects them and their personality. Try explaining rather than scolding.
The author is a senior psychiatrist and incharge, Institute of Life Skills & Mental Health Promotion, Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi. Send him an email at email@example.com, marked ‘Dr Nagpal