Print Page
Contact Youthline about this page

Dealing with Conflict at Home

Topics in this section:


Do any of these sound familiar?

“My house, my rules”

“You can stay the night, but only if I meet their parents first”

“I don’t care if you have a party, you are coming to Aunt Melda’s birthday – no question”

“If you want to be treated like an adult, you better start acting like one”

“Hand your phone to me before you go to bed”



What causes conflict at home?

  • You wanting to be more independent and spend more time with your friends than with your family.
  • You and your parents having different expectations about what’s okay or not okay at your age.
  • Your parents being stressed out due to personal things. 
  • Your family going through lots of changes – like a death or loss, moving house, a new baby, divorce or separation, someone moving out of home.
  • Your parents worrying that something bad could happen to you.
  • You or your parents having different standards and expectations about who you hang out with, how you look, what you do in your spare time, school/work and your future.
  • Poor communication – like not listening to one another, being aggressive or passive rather than assertive, taking things the wrong way or jumping to conclusions.

What are ways to calm the conflict?

  • Tell your parents how you really feel. For tips on how to do this, click here.   

  • Think about what their concerns may be and how to reassure them.

  • Be honest

  • Give them a reason to trust you – the more responsible you are, the more likely they are to give you some freedom.

  • Don’t be aggressive, attacking, sarcastic or rude to them. This will only make things worse. If you feel yourself getting angry, breath and take time out.

  • Compromise – try to find some middle ground where you both agree to certain things. 

How do I talk to my parents about hard stuff?

It can be hard to talk to parents or other adults about really personal things like feeling bad about yourself, bullying, a mistake you’ve made, bad reports or trouble at school, boyfriends/girlfriends, drugs or trouble with police. Click here for tips. 

Here are some suggestions from other young people about what works or doesn’t work:

 'Work your way into it. Start out by talking about something else and just work it into the conversation.'

'Depends on their mood and what they're doing. If they're in a bad mood you might leave it for later.'

'If it's something bad I'll sort of figure out in my mind what to say. I'll sit there thinking and in the end I'll get up the nerve to go and tell them.'

'If you’re wanting to go to a party, you've got to let them know how all your friends are going to be there and how you've got a ride home and you've got to say all that first because otherwise they'll just say no.'

'I talk to my parents with some respect.'

'You should give your parents a reason to listen. Say 'Mum I want to talk to you about something because it's affecting my school work' or something like that. I think it's best if you can let them know it’s really bothering you.'

'Mum usually comes in every night and says goodnight and if I've got something on my mind I'll usually ask her then and she'll sit down and talk to me.'

Here are some suggestions about how other young people cope when things are hard at home. 

"I talk to my friends or my older brother first, or I get my older brother to tell Mum and Dad."

"I'll tell my cousins because they'll support me."

"My cousin's in Australia. Sometimes if I'm having a problem I'll write to her and writing it down sorts it out in my brain a bit more and makes me feel better."

"Sometimes I just write it down anyway even if I rip it up and burn it. But it makes me feel better."

"I would talk to someone I know and trust."

"I just spend some time hanging out with friends or talking with them on the phone."



Having challenging conversations with those around you

  • Write it down. Before you talk to them, write down what exactly it is that you want to talk to them about so that it is clear in your mind. Describe the situation/moment that upset you, what you thought in that moment, how you felt in that moment, and what you would like from the person in the future.
  • Pick the right time. Pick a time when you are both calm, ready to talk and ready to listen.
  • Be clear. When talking to the person, have in your mind what you wrote down.
  • Focus on their behaviour rather than who they are as a person. For example, rather than saying “you’re so mean”, tell them what it is that they do that you find mean. E.g. “When you went off with your friends at that party and left me on my own, I thought that was mean”.
  • Avoid bringing up stuff from the past. Focus on the current issue and stick to this for now – past issues can be addressed at another time.
  • Use “I statements” like I feel… I thought… I want… rather than “you statements” like “you always” and “you never”, which can sound like blaming, judging or attacking.
  • Use your body language as well as your words. Have a calm tone of voice, sit down next to the person, with an open posture, don’t cross your arms, have an angry expression – these things can help the other person to not feel threatened and will help them be more open to what you have to say.
  • Keep calm. If you feel you’re getting worked up or angry during the conversation, some deep breaths or take a 5 minute break to calm down.
  • Listen to how they feel. Don’t interrupt. Don’t defend. Just listen and only when they are finished, then share.
  • Try understand where they are coming from. Let them know you’ve heard them by saying things like “I understand that you feel like I …” and “It sounds like you feel….”
  • Remember it’s just one opinion. Listen to that opinion and take it to heart if it seems like a fair point or something that can help, but if it doesn’t then leave that opinion behind and move on. The important thing is to consider it.
  • Don’t be stubborn or proud - being able to apologise and admit when you’re wrong shows strength, not weakness. A simple “sorry” can save a lot of strife.

Rate this page

Need to talk to someone?

Kia ora - tamariki ma

Contact us, we are here to help!