Teens: How to Deal with Disagreement

Adolescence can be a time when girls are catty, backstabbing, intimidating and downright bitchy. While it's important for girls to be able to get along in high school, it's also crucial that they learn the problem-solving skills that can help them with confrontations later in life.

Rosalind Wiseman is the co-founder and president of The Empower Program, a non-profit adolescent outreach program that teaches girls how to relate to one another without being mean. She is also the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence, and Defending Ourselves: A Guide to Prevention, Self-Defense and Recovery from Rape.

In The Empower Program workshops, Rosalind uses skill building and boundary setting to teach girls about the relationships between gender, girls' social hierarchies, and their vulnerability to perpetrate, witness, or be the target of violence. Girls learn to value themselves, trust their feelings, and have the skills to communicate what they want.

She teaches girls how to deal with a confrontation or disagreement using a tool called S.E.A.L.

  • Stop and assess what has happened. Breathe, evaluate, observe your allies, aggressors and the bystanders.
  • Explain your point of view or your feelings. Explain what specifically happened in the situation, focusing on the other person's actions and their effect on you. Request a suggested outcome.
  • Affirm your own feelings and/or the other person's. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree.
  • Lock a friendship in or lock it out. Not everyone has to be a friend, but you must treat everyone with respect.

    Rosalind also teaches them how to apologize, something that takes strength and courage. She explains, "It is acknowledging what you did that was hurtful." You must realize that your apology doesn't include what the other person did, and it must be given without trying to explain why you did what you did. It is also important to thank someone when he/she apologizes to you. "When someone apologizes, it's hard, so acknowledge it," she says.
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