Do your kids know how to fight?
No one needs to teach kids to fight; they are born with that instinct. But there is a healthy way and an unhealthy way to handle conflict. By teaching your kids the right way, they can “fight” in a way that resolves conflict instead of escalating it.
There will be times when you need to stay out of their fights and let them resolve the problem. But there will also be times when you need to put your referee hat on and step in to restore order. Here are four simple tips to get your on the right track when it comes to arguments in your family:
Be Honest About How You Feel
Accusing someone for how you feel will only make matters worse. Instead, teach your kids to own up to their feelings without blaming someone else for them: Instead of saying, You make me so mad, it’s all your fault! Say, I feel angry that you said that. This allows your child to express his frustration without pointing fingers at someone else. After all, no one forces your child to feel a certain way; it is his choice to get upset. But it’s okay for him to say that too.
Knowing How To Fight Does Not = Yelling
It’s very hard to stay calm when you are upset, but kids need to be reminded that they don’t need to yell to get their point across. Raised voices usually means that your anger is controlling you and when that happens, anger most likely will say and do things that will hurt and that a person regrets.
If your kids are fighting–and this is especially true in close quarters like a car ride–don’t let them continue if they are screaming at each other or even raising their voices very loudly. “Blow the whistle” and tell them to be quiet until they can talk more calmly. Resolutions rarely come from shouting matches.
Don’t Go To Bed Angry
This is a principle that my husband and I learned from the Bible and we’ve tried to instill in our kids: do everything you can to resolve the issue before you go to bed at night. I understand that there are some deeper issues that require time and even counseling to resolve, but everyday squabbles and fights should not be carried over into the next day.
I see the wisdom in this for a couple of reasons: first, it’s hard to sleep when you’re upset and your adrenaline is pumping. Second, going to bed angry can result in waking up calmed down enough to ignore the issue and never resolve it. Many nights of sweeping things under the rug will result in a big mess.
Show Them How It’s Done
Your kids will watch how you handle conflict with your spouse, friends, employers, employees, neighbors, and family members. When you set the example of honesty, staying calm, and not going to bed angry, they will see that good conflict resolution really does work and is much better for the health of your relationships.