No matter how much you want to avoid fights with your children–or conflicts, or heated disagreements, or whatever you want to call them–even the most controlled parent can find themselves doing just that, because kids are masters at pushing your buttons.
When you feel the anger rising within you, remember that the best way to manage those heated discussions is by learning to control your tongue. Words can escalate the situation and cause damage, even if you are unaware of what you are saying or unconcerned about the results.
The truth of the matter is that your words, spoken unwisely, may contribute to the conflict even if they are not the cause of the conflict. Your words can inflame or cool down the emotions of your child. Compare that choice to dropping a lit match and setting a small pile of leaves on fire. Nearby are two buckets, one filled with water and one filled with gasoline. Which one should you use?
When you sense you are headed towards a conflict, here are some tips to help you avoid the fight:
Avoid grumbling and complaining. Are you always finding fault? Criticizing your child? Do you tend to point out what your child does wrong and stay silent about what they do right? If you throw that negative “gasoline” on the simmering fight, it will turn an irritation or minor conflict into a fight, or at the very least cause your child to shut down and put up a wall.
Avoid lies and half truths. While the truth can sometimes hurt, lies and half-truths destroy the trust upon which healthy and meaningful relationships are built. Exaggeration can fall into this category as well.
You cannot have a healthy and strong relationship with your child if either one of you is not forthright. Truth is the foundation for a meaningful relationship and when it is broken, it must be earned back.
Avoid gossip and slander. Gossip is revealing or discussing personal facts, which may or may not be accurate, about another person for no legitimate purpose. Slander is when you speak false and malicious words about another person.
Sometimes we resort to either one of these in arguments, even with our kids. “I heard such-and-such about your friend’s parents and I don’t want you going over there!” Or “Your coach is an absolute idiot! I don’t know why you don’t go complain to him!”
Both gossip and slander are motivated by the need to build ourselves up by tearing others down.
Avoid assumptions. When you make an assumption, you believe something is true without absolute evidence. This information exchange or lack of it will result in total misunderstandings. Always ask for clarity instead of assuming something.
Avoid blaming. Blaming is holding someone responsible for something whether or not they are really at fault. If they are not at fault, it can come back to bite you when you learn the truth and even if they are at fault, using blame as a fighting tactic will NOT bring resolution to the problem. It’s basically a deflection when we are at a loss for how to really solve the issue.
Avoid entitlement. When you find yourself living by a different set of rules than you place on your child, you are modeling an entitled attitude.
Avoid playing the victim. Unfortunately, I played the martyr role very well when my kids were growing up. When I did that, I wanted my kids or my husband to feel sorry for me and come to my rescue. When they didn’t respond, I got even more upset. This reaction leads to more hurt and eventually an angry outburst.
Avoid self-blame. When you believe that everything is your fault or that you are the problem, you are caught in a trap of self-blame. This is the blame game in reverse. When this happens, it is easy to become defensive and strike out to protect yourself. This attitude puts others on edge and pushes people away.
It is unrealistic to assume that you can avoid all conflicts with your kids. But you can keep those differences from turning into full-blown fights and causing damage to your relationship with your kids.
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