Arguments are inevitable between parents. Arguments in front of children are also inevitable. Unfortunately, the stress of the pandemic has called for more arguments. Child specialist and parenting coach Beth Proudfoot notes that these arguments are not only attributed to the stress of the pandemic, but to political polarization, climate concerns, and of course the economy.
Everyone around the world has been arguing more since Covid-19 plagued our planet. “We are all on edge,” says Proudfoot. It has come to no surprise that divorce rates have increased drastically. People are emotionally exhausted. With the constant shutdowns, individuals are unable to find a form of release. This leads people to become far more irritable, and easily pushed over the edge. With less available ways to reduce stress it only leads to more arguing.
All of this arguing is having an impact on children. With less privacy due to the shelter-in-place orders, kids are constantly witnessing arguments between parents. It begs the question: is it ok to fight in front of the kids?
Experts have come to conclude that it’s not necessarily that you argue but how you argue that impacts children. An argument that has no solution and exponentially grows in hostility can be harmful to the development of a child. However, an argument that has a solution can serve as a wonderful lesson when they witness adults solve problems together.
What often happens is an argument breaks out in front of the children but is not resolved in front of them. Some kids may continue to worry about what they witnessed, which causes them stress. It is extremely beneficial, however, for kids to witness parents coming to a resolution; benefiting the child’s current state or well-being and future development.
So, argue better.
For the sake of your children, it is imperative to learn how to argue better. We should recognize that disagreements and arguments are another form of communication. Arguments should be embraced as a part of life. The key is learning how to keep arguments healthy. Enough research shows that hostile parental conflict can have a detrimental impact on a child’s mental health which can lead to future relationship issues, behavioral problems and increased aggression.
5 Tips to Argue Better
According to an article from Parents.com, there is a number of effective ways to help you “argue better.” We’ve consolidated it to 5 easy steps, which should always be utilized but more so when in the presence of children.
Being consciously aware of your breathing can help control your ability to stay calm and control your emotions. We all know emotions can get the best of us. Taking conscious steps in an effort to control your breathing (and thus your emotions) can prevent you from losing your temper.
Everyone wants to be heard. Lead by example and actually listen to what your partner is saying. Even in situations where you feel it’s entirely their fault, you won’t know where they are coming from if you don’t listen to what they are saying before responding.
- Avoid jumping to another issue.
Unresolved issues seem to always make their way into other arguments, whether they’re relevant or not. Sometimes other issues are brought up to push fault or deflect. Keeping those at bay and focusing on the issue at hand is important. One issue at a time.
- Conscious Word Choice
Empower yourself by recognizing you can control how an argument unfolds by choosing your words. Words can change the direction of an argument if they are less threatening and encourage the other party to listen. Listening leads to understanding which often times is the missing link to finding a solution.
- Push Pause & Cool Off.
Timing is everything. Look for the right moment, communicate your desire to have a conversation but acknowledge when it might be a bad time. If you bring up an issue and recognize that your partner just came home from work after a stressful day it may be best to wait. If the argument begins and starts to escalate it is completely appropriate to stop the conversation, take some time to cool off and revisit the issue later.
Above all, consider your children and how they would be impacted. Avoid verbal and physical aggression or intense arguments which can be very upsetting and harmful for children. Sometimes kids want to get involved and defend a certain parent or tell both parents to stop. That is a clear indicator that it’s time to take a break to cool off and think about solutions before reengaging in the conversation. Remind the kids that it is not their job to be involved in their parent’s disagreements and that the two of you will figure it out amongst yourselves.
Though arguments are inevitable they can be done in a healthy way. Teaching children that different feelings or views can be expressed, problems can be solved, and compromises can be found, all without resorting to verbal or physical aggression. Learning to ‘argue’ (or communicate) better yourself can effectively teach your children to do the same in their own lives.