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How To Turn Down The Heat On Fiery Family Arguments

“All families have conflicts. In a family, arguments and disagreements can take on a new tone and significance.Parents worry about children being rude, defiant and disobedient. Parents worry about what happens when they leave their children with their partners and whether they will be aggressive or uncooperative. Children often find it hard to understand or explain their feelings. So, they tend to ‘act them out’. Children need to have their own response to the new family acknowledged. If children ‘defy’ you, it’s better to dive under the behaviour to understand what’s going on than get into a head to head fight. All behaviour is a way of getting what you need. Bad behaviour is actually a way of trying to show bad feelings.”

Parents can minimize the negative impact of their arguments on their children using a few simple techniques to calm down.

All parents are bound to disagree, argue or even raise their voices with each other.

But psychologists say parents can minimize the negative impact of their arguments on their children. It’s just a matter of using a few simple techniques to turn down the heat and repair the damage after it’s over.

Psychologist Suzanne Phillips at Long Island University says one of the most important things for parents to remember when they’re on the verge of a big argument is not to involve the child.

“Remember, the child in some ways identifies with both of those parents,” Phillips says. “So if the mother is really asking the child to be her sounding board, advocate or collaborator against the other parent, the child loses the opportunity to feel good about the other parent and is put in a very conflicted situation.”

Even little swipes and criticisms can be harmful. Because kids identify with their parents, they interpret negative characterizations as also aimed at them. Phillips says this is why we often see “shame and low self-esteem in children who are caught in these battles.”

“Remember who it is you’re arguing with before you open your mouth,” says clinical psychologist Alan E. Fruzzetti at the University of Nevada, Reno. “When we get negatively charged, our cognitive performance goes down, and we often miss the larger context and start arguing as though our loved one is our enemy.”

Even in the heat of discourse, it’s important for parents to remember why they’re there in the first place. “You have to remember, ‘This is someone I love,’ ” he says.

For parents who feel they just can’t stop arguing when they get angry, University of Washington psychologist Laura Kastner has written extensively about what she calls “getting to calm.”

“The default position should be to say nothing,” she says. “A good mantra is: ‘Don’t just do something, stand there.’ “

Read  more: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/04/29/179238127/it-s-how-you-fight-that-counts

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