Our family structure helps us develop relationship expectations, communication skills, life outlook, the way we show our love, coping skills, and many traits through conditioning. Chronic family conflict can negatively impact your physical, emotional, and mental health. Tension and ongoing conflict can be stressful and strain our relationships.
Disagreements can be an opportunity for growth when communicated effectively and when each party is valued. Resolving family conflict can be beneficial practice to negotiate, compromise, cooperate, manage emotions, build empathy, and to communicate kindly and assertively. We work with you and your family, your partner or spouse, your children, and siblings to address the communication styles you use with each other. We will also work with you to acknowledge any underlying issues that may interfere with your family cohesiveness.
It Starts with You
As the adult, you and/or your spouse decide on the tone for the family. The children and young adults in the family will observe and learn from the adult behavior. When there is negativity, shouting, or use of physically aggressive behavior as a means to deal with conflict, the children will adopt this as a way to resolve conflict and disagreements.
When arguments and disagreements occur within the family, it is important to maintain control of the anger and emotion. One strategy is to take time to calm down before discussing the issue again. It’s important to show the children and teens in the family that although conflicts will occur in life, there are different ways to diffuse the situation.
Developing Conflict Management Skills
- Cooperation: Teach the children to resolve the conflict together. It’s important to approach conflict in a positive manner. Children need to see that if they can work together, they can resolve problems.
- Managing Emotions: It can be very difficult for children (and some adults) to maintain their composure in a conflict situation. This is especially true when there is an accusation or blame involved. In these situations, the two most common behaviors are: reacting aggressively or withdrawing completely. The best strategy is to take some time to let everyone calm down. When the emotions are all under control, it is possible to return and discuss the problem.
- Empathy: It is important to teach children how to listen, and to understand how others feel. The question they need to ask themselves is what does the other person need or want?. It is always beneficial to imagine what it is like to be in the other person’s place.
- Communication: As children grow, they need to learn to speak clearly so that others can understand them. It is also important to always be respectful and this takes practice. Adults in the home can practice polite ways to ask for what they need, for example; “I would like you to ask before taking my things.”
When is Enough Too Much: Some issues are too big for children to resolve between themselves, and the argument begins to escalate. There is always a concern that a conflict will become intense or lead to some act of physical aggression. This is the point at which the adult needs to intervene. It is important for the parent/adult to step in prior to any physical violence. Allow feelings a time to cool, and then a mutual solution may be possible. If not, the parent can assist their child to suggest plausible alternatives. Then a discussion can follow and allow the child to decide which is the best one.