How parents' fights with teens can help development

How fighting with your teen impacts developme... 04:47

If you find yourself sparring with your teen, do not panic.

According to psychologist Lisa Damour, fighting can be an important part of your child's development. Damour writes on the New York Times' website that how conflict is handled at home can impact a teen's mental health and the quality of relationships outside the home.

"What we see as conflict comes with the territory with teens, so you have to accept that it's going to happen. And what we know is that it can become the training ground for helping them see things from multiple perspectives," Damour said on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday. "And that's what we want our teenagers to be able to do."

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According to Damour, conflict comes in four categories, three bad -- attacking, withdrawing, complying - and problem solving.

"The good one is problem solving, when people can try to come together and say, 'Here's how I think you might be seeing it. Here's how I might be seeing it. How can we use that to come to a better solution?'" Damour said.

Damour acknowledged that having this conversation could be difficult, especially when caught in the heat of the battle. But Damour urged parents to get past the "slammed door" and go back to their teens to say, "I want to hear your opinion."

"A lot of parents aren't getting there, and what we see is when parents get there, things go better," Damour said. "What we know from the research is that parents who are willing to walk around their teenagers' mental shoes get teenagers who are willing to walk around in the parents' mental shoes."

While fighting is inevitable and can be a "training ground" for teens, Damour also said when parents should know it is a bigger problem.

As she wrote in her book, "Untangled," Damour quoted the words of researchers Brett Lauren and W. Andrew Collins, saying, "Disagreements is common, serious conflict is not."

"So if you are getting knocked down, dragged out all the time and there is never any predictive outcome... probably things are not going well and that's probably when support is in order," Damour said.