As long as you fight fair and don'' argue loudly in the presence of your infant or toddler, arguing in front of children is a normal part of any household. "Watching parents argue can be scary for children, but seeing them resolve their difference in positive ways can offer a great deal of security," advises Kathleen E. Finnegan, MA LPC. "If children can learn that couples and families can stay together, even through heated times, they will have a much easier time in their lives."
Here are the rules of fair play when it comes to fighting in front of your kids.
Don't continue to fight
Even in the heat of the moment, it's key to pay attention to your children when you are butting heads. It's time to table the topic for another time when you see that it is stressing your children out or if they begin to get involved.
Do resolve your issues
in front of your children
Show them that even though parents argue, they still love each other and can come to an agreement at the end of an argument. That means any topics about things that can't be resolved are off limits when your children are around.
Don't get abusive
In all cases, but especially when fighting in front of your kids, do not get physical aggressive or emotionally or verbally abusive towards your partner when you're having a disagreement.
Do use "I" statements
It's important to show your children that it is okay to disagree, so long as you are using "I" statements and avoid blame. When accusations begin to fly, put the debate on pause.
Don't ask your kids to pick sides
Keep your quarrel between the two of you. Bringing your kids in the middle of it will make them feel uncomfortable and pressured, and most times, resentful.
Do sit down with your partner
When things are calm, and before a single hint of conflict arises, sit down with your partner and discuss how you'd like to handle fights in front of the kids.
"At the other end of this spectrum there's the child who does not know how to assert him or herself at all," warns Finnegan. "Often times these are the children who don't know how to stand up to peer pressure, are afraid of conflict and become overly anxious when they enter a new situation."
However, if you are arguing excessively or if fighting fair seems like a tough task, seek help from a licensed therapist or family counselor and learn how to fight fair in front of your kids.
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