Navigating Family Arguments

Let’s face it, family arguments can be ugly and non-productive.

Many disagreements end in frustration and anger, and nothing is resolved. However, there are effective ways to work through these conflicts and improve relationships, even with your teen! Here are some tips:

 Set clear Boundaries

Each parent brings their own culture, norms and values to the family, and it is important for them to agree on what rules and expectations they will have in the home for their children. Here are some rules to help reduce conflict and help everyone stay calm, while increasing communication during family arguments:

1) No yelling or name calling: Yelling and name calling may feel good in the moment but are often triggering and can escalate conflict and breakdown communication and relationships.

2) Take turns speaking: Give each person time to talk. If this is a struggle you can set a timer, so each person has time to speak or respond.

3) Try to listen and understand the other perspective:  Try to stay focused on what the other person is saying without judgement, and to understand their perspective rather than thinking about what you will say next. Ask questions if you don’t understand something. It can be helpful to repeat back what you heard them say, so that they know you heard them, and they can correct any misunderstandings.

4) Validate, validate, validate! Validating or acknowledging the other persons feelings and opinions is important. Be open to the other person’s point of view. 

5)    Avoid words like “always” and “never”: Talk about the behavior rather than the person. For example, taking out the garbage is part of your chores, and you did not take it out this week vs. You never take out the garbage or do your chores. 

6)    Use “I statements”: This can help reduce conflict and defensiveness. It’s as simple as saying  “I feel worried when you come home past curfew” vs “You were inconsiderate and came home late.” See the difference?

7) Take a break: Make a rule that if things feel they are starting to escalate, anyone can call for a break for 10 -30 minutes. Everyone should go to separate places to calm down and come back and continue the discussion. 

 Compromise is Crucial

As a parent it can be tempting to just expect your teen or adolescent to do something “because I said so.” It is helpful to explain your reasons for your decisions. Concerned that your teen wants to drive into the city with friends after getting their license? Explaining that you have concerns for their safety can be helpful as well as working on a compromise. You could offer to drive them or allow them to go if another parent or adult accompanies them. Issues with inappropriate usage of a phone or social media? Letting your child or teen know the reasons for limiting or taking away the privilege is due to safety and possible legal issues could help them understand. Giving them concrete ways to earn back privileges can help reduce feelings of anger and resentment.  

Encourage Honesty

Let your kids know they can come to you and talk about anything. Tell them that you want to hear anything they have to say even if you don’t agree. Try to avoid lecturing and just have an honest conversation with your perspective. It can be helpful to ask if they just need to vent or if they want advice. If they struggle to share their emotions or problems find another way to communicate. They could write in a family journal, text, email, write a letter or go on a walk or drive so they don’t have to talk face-to face.  

Schedule family time

We all get busy with work, school and extra-curricular activities. If we don’t schedule time together as a family, it is harder to make this happen. Do your best to have a set time every week to spend together. Alternate who gets to decide the activity. This makes everyone feel included and important, and increases everyone’s willingness to participate.

 If you are struggling to de-escalate your family arguments or communicate with your child or teen, it can be helpful to talk to someone who can help you work through these issues.  Give us a call today at 217-203-2008 or email us to schedule an appointment and start promoting peace from within.

November 22, 2022