When the Going Gets Tough: Handling Family Conflict

Today’s blog post is submitted by our featured guest contributor, Rachel Taylor, M.S.  Enjoy the post and look forward to future posts from Rachel.

 As schedules get busier, school starts back up, and the days get shorter it can difficult to get enough sleep and eat well. Usually when we’re stressed, our mood plummets, making us snappy and irritable.  This isn’t just true for you as a parent, but also for your children.  When we are in that bad mental space, it’s much easier to get drawn into conflict that we might normally let go or have more patience with. 

Kelly Nault, author of “When You’re About To Go Off The Deep End, Don’t Take Your Kids With You,” promotes the idea that if you put yourself first as a parent you will have more to give to your children.  So, in an effort to support you in this, I have included three tips from Kelly’s book. 

  1. Establish Family Rules For Conflict- As a family; create some sort of document that you can refer back to during conflict.  Include things like: we are specific when we talk about our problems, we forgive one another, we are honest, we don’t yell or put another person down, etc. Create this document when things are going well and really try to refer back to it whenever things get heated.  The more everyone feels involved in creating the “rules,” the more every member of the family will use it.
  2. Use a ‘Parents’ Timeout- Timeouts are often used as punishments when a child misbehaves, but they can also be used during times of conflict.  If you as the parent, allow yourself to ‘disengage’ from the argument and take a break, you can return to it later with a clear head.  This strategy works because although you cannot control your children all the time, you CAN control yourself. 
  3. Perform ‘Daring Do-Overs”-No one is perfect. In fact, we usually make mistakes that we wish we could take back.  Instead of feeling guilty, try a ‘do over’ and try again.  This strategy helps to decrease conflict as well as giving all family members the opportunity to behave well, increasing the chance of it happening in the future.

 For more information, check out Kelly’s book or check out her website at: www.mommymoments.com

Rachel Taylor is a Marriage and Family Counselor in private practice in Corvallis.  She provides parenting education as well as child, family, individual and couples counseling services.