Arguing In Front Of The Children

To see your parents fight in front of you is not a great experience for children. Parents forget that their children are within earshot of what they are saying; or they think the children are too young to understand the content of the argument.

However, they don’t realise that even when the children are too young to understand the words, or the context in which they are being used, it’s the negative tone of the conversation that the kids pick up on. Kids do as the parents do and so if they see the elders resolving disputes with petty arguing, they are going to learn the same tactic. Given that fights are a natural part of relationships, though, how do you approach them in a way that is healthiest for your kid?

Disagree and drop it. What should you do if you disagree with your spouse in front of the children? Disagree and drop it for the time being. Shelve the matter until the time the kids are asleep or outside playing. 

Have a plan in place. One of the issues that cause disagreements between partners is the style of parenting. Have your guidelines in place instead of contradicting each other in front of the children for they may lose respect for you or, in the worst case, manipulate your emotions to suit them. 

De-escalate. If it so happens that there arises a conflict in front of children, give yourself an old-fashioned time out. When things get too heated, acknowledge it’s time for one person to leave the room or take a walk. 

Remain united by agreeing to disagree. It’s unfair for children to see the parents fight in front of them. They will take sides. A child should never be in a position where they’re choosing one parent over the other. It makes the child more insecure when he or she feels that Mom and Dad aren’t a united team. The takeaway should be that parents love and enjoy each other, and they fight – the two are not mutually exclusive.

Constructive, not destructive arguments. A recent study found that constructive arguments bode well for a child’s psychological health. Those who were exposed to parents debating, talking through their feelings, and working toward a solution were found to be more empathetic, tuned into their peers, and socially skilled. However, those children who were exposed to nasty conflicts, including insults, swearing, and physical aggression, on the other hand, were more likely to either act out or withdraw and show depressive symptoms.

Avoid getting into control issues. Arguing is about control. One person insists he or she is right while the other is wrong. If you need to have your own way all the time is a personality problem that needs to be worked on. Picking fights and being nasty makes you dangerous as a spouse or parent. If arguing becomes a problem in your marriage and you can’t seem to keep it between the two of you, seek counselling.

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