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Study: Argumentative Teens Fare Better in Life

As difficult as it may be to accept by some parents, a new study has found that boys and girls who frequently argue with their parents are better at dealing with peer pressure and are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol in adulthood.

Medical Daily is reporting that a study published in the journal Child Development found that teens actually turn out to be better negotiators and "learn to be taken more seriously" in adulthood from what they learn while arguing with their parents.

The study surveyed 157 13 year-olds of different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Participants were taped describing typical arguments they had with their mothers. The recordings which were later replayed for their mothers to hear.

Three years later, the same teens were questioned again, this time about their lives and experiences with drugs and alcohol.

"Researchers found that teens that displayed confidence and used logic to back up their statements were significantly more likely to have refused negative peer pressure and 40 percent more likely to say 'no' when offered alcohol or drugs compared to kids who didn't argue with their parents," the Daily reports.

Lead author Joseph Allen, a University of Virginia psychology professor, told the Charlottesville Daily Progress that "what goes on in the family is actually a training ground for teens in terms of how to negotiate with other people."

He later told National Public Radio that "We tell parents to think of those arguments not as nuisance but as a critical training ground." 

Allen added that verbal arguments between parent and child are actually mini life lessons in how to disagree, which is an important skill later on in life with partners, friends and colleagues.

Co-researcher Joanna Chango, a clinical psychology graduate said that while it seems counter-intuitive to tell parents to let their teens argue with them, the latest findings show that teenagers with more effective argumentation skills are also better at asserting themselves and have a greater sense of autonomy as they grow older.

However, researchers say it's important for parents to reward teens when they argue calmly and persuasively rather than by yelling, threatening or insulting.

"The teens who learned to be calm and confident and persuasive with their parents acted the same way when they were with their peers," Allen said.

It's also important for parents to behave correctly during arguments to set the right example for their children on good discussion practices.

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