Fighting is a part of any marriage and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But when you and your spouse’s arguments start to affect the children, you clearly need to make a change in how you two are dealing with your disagreements. Try these strategies to stop fighting in front of your children:
1. Count to 10
Practice what you preach to stop fighting in front of your kids. You tell your children to count to 10 when they’re upset.
Do the same thing. Instead of instantly reacting to something your spouse has said or done, count to 10 first.
It may sound childish to count to 10 but those 10 seconds can help you regain some of your composure while collecting your thoughts. What you say after counting to 10 can be completely different than a knee-jerk reaction.
2. Set a Keyword
Set up a keyword with your spouse. You’ll use it when one of you feels the conversation you’re having in front of your children is getting out of control. Both of you must agree on the keyword and the second one of you mentions it, the discussion has to be tabled until the kids are no longer around.
In other words, if your keyword is “flapjacks” and your debate over finances is getting too heated for your children to hear, one of you says, “flapjacks.” The arguing ends without grudges or further discussion until the kids are in bed.
3. Walk Away
We often tell our kids to avoid conflict by simply walking away from the source.
We can learn a lot from the things we tell our children. When an argument is on the horizon, walk away.
Don’t stick around and participate but don’t storm out of the room either. If your spouse follows you to another room, explain that you would like to talk later when the kids aren’t around.
4. Be Consistent
Pick a resolution and stick to it.
Don’t scream “Flapjacks!”, walk away and then start counting out loud to 10. Be consistent to curb your fighting.
Work with your spouse to select one of these methods and make that the only one you two try. If it’s not working for either of you, agree to select a different method. Just don’t try them all at once.
5. Sometimes It’s Okay to Fight in Front of Your Kids
Fighting can be scary to children. They may have classmates whose parents are divorced and a small tiff they see Mom and Dad having can feel like the end of their world.
But fighting in front of your children doesn’t have to be damaging. If your disagreement is civil and not explosive, then your children can learn from seeing how you and your spouse handle your differences amicably. Be an example they can learn from and you’ll be surprised at how they manage conflicts with their siblings, friends and even you.