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  • Writer's pictureDale V Wayman, PhD

Reducing Fights in Families - T3 Formula

The number one thing that teenagers say that they don't like about their parents?   


There is a simple principle that research* has shown that reduces fights between parents and their kids. This principle is called the T3 Formula. If families follow these three T's, research* indicates that there will be a reduction fighting between teens and parents by 85%

T - Topic - When you have a disagreement with your teen or parent, concentrate on one topic.   Don't stray into other topics. Stay on topic. Tackle one thing at a time.

T - Timing - When you have a disagreement with your teen or parent, do it at a time when you both can concentrate on the topic.  Do it at a time when you are not distracted by the phone, tv, etc.

T - Temper - If you can control your anger, the disagreement will be greatly lessened. 

In fact, research* shows that the third T, temper, is the most important of the three. If the teen and the parent can control their anger, family relationships seem to improve In family sessions, I have found it helpful to teach this T3 Formula to parents and teenagers. So I typically write the T3 Formula on an index card and give one to each parents and one to each teenager that is in the family session. We discuss the T3 Formula together in the session and then run a "T3 experiment." The next session the family members are to report back how well the T3 Formula worked. Further, I have used the T3 Formula in couples counseling and in relationships in general with great success. The alliteration of T makes for an easy mnemonic. People readily pick up this concept and remember it easily.

*This concept has been formulated over time using Adlerian theory, Strategic theory (Jay Haley) and my own clinical experience. So, one can say that this "research" is anecdotal. However, I've seen its effectiveness in clinical practice. It is also entirely possible that the foundation for this concept, (the alliteration of T) was picked up thru the many trainings that I have had over the years. If anybody finds this concept in the literature, please let me know.

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