*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Yale News.
A new study from the Yale Child Study Center finds that parents can lessen the effects of inevitable conflict with their teenage children by showing emotional warmth and that this can make a difference within the course of a day.
Published in the journal Emotion, “When Do Adolescents Feel Loved?” is the first study of its kind to examine fluctuations in how loved teens feel at a daily level.
Using three weeks of daily diary entries submitted by parents and teens, the investigators — John Coffey (Yale University and Sewanee: The University of the South), Mengya Xia (University of Alabama), and Greg Fosco (Pennsylvania State University) — were able to link parents’ displays of warmth and parents’ perceptions of conflict to daily fluctuations in how loved their teens were feeling.
Irrespective of the general closeness of the parent-teen relationships, researchers found that teens reported feeling more loved on days when parents reported showing more warmth in the form of affection, understanding, and praise. Likewise, teens reported feeling less loved on days when parents reported more conflict than usual.
More importantly, the researchers said, they also found that parents can mitigate the impact of conflict by showing their teen warmth. In other words, on days when parents were warm, high levels of conflict didn’t reduce how loved teens felt.
To mitigate conflict, warmth had to be conveyed on the same day — but the warmth and conflict did not need to be related, the researchers found.