No one, not even your teenager, can push your buttons unless you let them.

New York - If nothing else you can control how you respond when a teen or anyone else keeps pushing your buttons.

Change the language

“When a parent tells me their kid is ‘pushing their buttons,’ I let them know we need to change the language,” said Dr. Alexandra Solomon, a Northwestern University professor, clinical psychologist and author of Loving Bravely.

She said that thinking your child is controlling you is disempowering, which can lead to a battle of wills.

Such conflicts often fall into one of three categories, Dr. Solomon said.

The first is when the parents are thinking about their own teen behaviour. Parents may project their fears, memories and challenges onto the relationship and can’t see their child as separate from themselves.

Another involves thinking of past mistakes they made as parents. Dr. Solomon said a parent may think, “If I had taken my child on play dates when they were younger then they would have friends now.”

Control your reaction

“The reason to stay calm is because we co-regulate with our children - when we freak out, they freak out,” said Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, a physician and co-founder of the Centre for Parent and Teen Communication.

Dr. Solomon recommends avoiding this kind of overreaction by practicing mindful parenting, which involves pausing, regulating your emotions and staying present in the moment, without attaching a story or meaning to the behaviour. Research studies have found that using this technique can improve the quality of parent-child relationships.

Be on the same team

Say to your teenager: “This isn’t working for either of us. What can we do to fix it?” Maybe the coat closet is near the front door and your kids don’t use it because they come in through the back door. Could you install a coat hook near the back door?

Once you have a plan, even if there is only a small improvement, praise your child for doing a good job and acknowledge that you have a better relationship because you are working together.

“Parents may want to think of themselves as coaches, helping their child practice instead of being disciplinarians,” said Dr. Carla Naumburg, a clinical social worker and author of parenting books including “Ready, Set, Breathe: Practicing Mindfulness With Your Children for Fewer Meltdowns and a More Peaceful Family.”

“Getting mad at your child isn’t going to change the behavior,” she said. “When you get angry, your attention is on the conflict instead of figuring out a solution to the problem.”

Trouble shoot

If you have setbacks, ask your child, “Where do you think we went wrong?”

“Approach situations with curiosity. If your son doesn’t get out of bed, don’t say, ‘You are tired because you stayed up too late.’” Dr. Solomon said. Instead ask, ‘Why do you think you are tired?’ Hold back the urge to be right and instead stay curious by asking questions.

The New York Times