Strong families handle their conflict fairly. All families have conflict–it’s a natural part of human relationships. Strong families are able to work through fights and disagreements by focusing on the problems, rather than by “tearing each other down.”
Keys to Fair Fighting
- Stay focused on the behavior or problem.
- Use “I” messages to express your thoughts and feelings about the problem. ** For example, if you and your child are arguing about bedtime, you could say “I get angry when you continue to argue with me even after I’ve told you my decision. I want you to go to bed now.” instead of “You never listen to me. Go to bed now or I’ll spank you.”
- Stay focused on the present problem. ** To not bring up old issues and problems. These only distract from the present issue. You can discuss them later.
- Respect each other’s right to safety. ** Fights should never become violent. When people are so angry that they feel like hitting one another or throwing things, then the discussion should be stopped. ** Agree to get together to talk again after everyone has had a chance to calm down.
- Use your problem solving skills to create new solutions to the problem and teach your kids to think of ways to resolve conflict. ** It is not useful to fight about what isn’t working. Instead, focus on what has worked in the past or what could work now.
- The more you include your child, the better problem solver he/she will be – and the more likely to follow through with the plan.
Strong, healthy families recognize the importance of developing trust. Trust is the glue that holds relationships together.
Some ways to develop trust in your family are:
- Give your child opportunities to earn your trust. Let her do small tasks around the house and praise her for doing it on her own.
- Show your child that you can be trusted. Children need to know that they can count on what their parents say. Follow through with the things you promise to do.
- Allow people in your family to make amends. We all make mistakes. Teach your child to forgive and allow yourself to forgive others. Holding on to past hurts often only hurts us.
- Teach everyone how to say “I’m sorry.” Taking responsibility for our good and our bad behaviors is important and helps to develop trust. People learn to trust that they can be loved even though they are not perfect.
Patricia Tanner Nelson, Ed.D. ,Family & Human Development Specialist Want more information? Visit us at Family Life