Rules To Live By When Arguing In Front Of Your Kids

Disagreeing with your spouse is inevitable. Unfortunately, it sometimes occurs in front of your kids. When it does, it can provide an opportunity to model for them how to communicate about differences in a healthy way. When children witness constructive arguments, valuable lessons can be learned. They learn how to avoid destructive conflict and resolve issues in a productive manner.

These days, there are many things that can cause couples to fight. On top of the everyday stresses of work, bills and daily goings-on, we’re dealing with the added pressure of the economic and health-related consequences of COVID-19.  Like the illness itself, no one is immune from the anxiety of worrying about the pandemic. This is a highly stressful time for adults. However, children are at particular risk. They lack the capacity to comprehend what is happening and why. Their routines are interrupted and their sense of security is shaky at best.

As parents, you need to take these factors into serious consideration when the anxiety erupts into a disruptive encounter with your spouse. Heated arguments that take place in front of your children can, over time, cause children to develop problematic patterns in adulthood. These include:

  • Negative learned behavior
  • Replicating unresolved issues
  • Avoiding intimate relationships
  • Anxiety

While fighting in front of kids is sometimes unavoidable, there are ways to stay in control of the situation. Keeping your cool and taking a different approach will help your marriage and especially your children. These tips may help.

  1. Choose the right time and place. When a heated discussion breaks out in front of children, acknowledge your spouse’s concern without being dismissive. Suggest addressing the issue at a more appropriate time.
  2. Own your feelings. Avoid making accusations and acknowledge that it’s how “you” feel. Express how you interpret a situation and use the term “I” in doing so.
  3. Listen openly. Make an effort to hear where your spouse is coming from. While you may not agree, it’s important to let them know you’re listening. This helps validate feelings.
  4. Recognize intentions. Perception is your reality. But, your perception could be very different than someone’s intentions. It’s important to recognize that, and even explain to your children how you might have misunderstood or perceived actions incorrectly.
  5. Make sure your kids see you make up. If your children witness an argument, they should also see that you resolved the issue and made up. This helps restore faith in the relationship and teaches children that just because you have a fight, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be settled.
  6. Acknowledge your child’s feelings. When parents fight, children can be frightened and unsure. Following any altercation, children should be assured that you know it’s not easy on them to witness. Take it one step further to let them know it’s not their fault.

The goal here is for parents to help children avoid unnecessary pain and trauma. Peaceful resolutions will have a long lasting effect on memories and future behavior of children.

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