Guest Post by Johnathan Blakely
With the novel coronavirus stopping life in its tracks, parents are faced with a whole new struggle: kids are home all the time. And we all know that this means the likelihood of more family arguments. Of course, in theory, having your family all under one roof is great. Don’t we all wish we had more time to spend with our loved ones? But unlike summer break, the rules and guidelines put in place to fight this pandemic mean we’ve got nowhere else to be other than home-together.
So much time cooped up in the house means you’ve got a whole new set of problems to deal with. For example, all this free time is bound to send kids to their devices; it’s critical you stay on top of their screen time so that you can keep them away from any potentially harmful apps or websites. The online world can be a scary place for parents.
Beyond that, being stuck at home is going to cause conflicts and arguments even amongst adults. Children, on the other hand, who are still working out how to manage their emotions and who may not fully understand the crisis that is going on, may find this time even more challenging. Family arguments are going to happen, and they could get ugly.
However, the goal isn’t to try and avoid these conflicts. That’s almost impossible. Instead, we need to come up with coping strategies to help resolve arguments and to encourage kids to develop good relationships and problem-solving skills. Here are three ways to stop family arguments when the kids are stuck at home. How do you settle your child starting reception.
With everyone living on top of one another tempers are bound to flare. In most cases, it will be something small and fairly insignificant that sets a child off. But before you know it, you have a full-blown argument on your hands. Perhaps there’s screaming, and it wouldn’t be shocking if there was some physical contact, too. This is one of the key areas to focus on when looking to stop arguments around the house.
When this happens, probably the best thing for everyone to do is to just stop what they are doing and take some time to calm down. Talk with your kids and help them come up with a way to relax that works. For example, maybe each child goes back to their rooms for ten minutes, or one heads outside and the other goes to the playroom.
Separate everyone and give them a chance to cool down. Then, when everyone has had the chance to decompress, you can bring everyone back in for a talk. Once everyone has had a minute, the source of the conflict won’t seem as severe. This is a valuable lesson your children need to learn to develop their ability to manage emotions.
Ideally, you want to get to the point where your children do this on their own. They know when they are becoming heated and need a few moments to themselves. If there is an age difference between your kids, maybe speak to the eldest about initiating a pause. They can lead by example because they are older, or more responsible. Getting them to step in and be mature is a great way to encourage older siblings. And it’s a great way to stop any conflict in its tracks.
Label things to stop family arguments
A major source of conflict with children is boundaries. Kids create them in their minds, and then when someone crosses them, they tend to freak out. As a result, to avoid and resolve conflicts, it’s important to make these boundaries clear. And labels are a great tool to use for this.
One way to use labels is to use them to distinguish what belongs to who. Kids tend to be possessive by nature. Certainly, while it’s important to teach kids to share, they also need to learn to respect the property of others. Labels help define who owns what, and they also establish a protocol for sharing.
For example, if one kid wants to use another’s toy, but it has their brother/sister’s name on it, they know this means they need to ask. Without the label, the first child might just take it, and this can cause a meltdown from the other. Labels are also useful for helping kids recognize the things they can’t touch.
Specifically, if you have a computer or tablet that’s strictly for adult use, labelling it “Mummy” or whichever adult it belongs to will help establish this boundary.
Another thing you can do to stop arguments with labels is to use them to establish clear rules. For example, tablets and game consoles can be labelled with a certain colour and designated as “evening activities”. This means that if a kid grabs it during the day you can point to the label. They may still protest, but, in the end, they will know that they have crossed the line.
To encourage sharing, placing a label that denotes this is a “family ” item illustrates that some belongings are for individuals and others are meant to be shared. As you can see, this simple tactic, “>labelling things, is not only versatile, but it can be quite effective in resolving and eventually preventing future conflict.
One of the best ways to stop arguments between your children is to talk things out. However, not all discussions are the same. The goal of any talk should be to try and establish common ground that will prevent future arguments, or at least make them less severe.
Perhaps one of the best ways to do this is to encourage your children to make “I” statements. This is a classic technique that has been around for ages, but it remains effective. Not just for kids but also adults too.
“I” statements help children express how a situation makes them feel, and in doing this, they help their siblings gain perspective. For example: Instead of saying, “you stole my toy,” to which the sibling would respond, “no I didn’t,” they would say “I felt like you were using my toy without permission.” The response might be “It’s not your toy,” or “I didn’t think I had to ask”.
No matter the response, framing statements in this way will help kids see the big picture. Empathy, a key life skill will follow if you practice this with them. This will allow them to understand how their actions impact others. Not only will this skill benefit them as a child in order to understand the world but as an adult living peacefully with others.
There may be some pushback in the beginning as they learn to communicate in this way consistently. But if you are careful to act as a mediator and keep all communication to “I” statements, this will eventually work and you’ll find there is less conflict in the home.
Keep Working Together to prevent family arguments
This coronavirus crisis is trying for everyone, and it’s unlikely that it will go away anytime soon. Regardless of the pandemic, raising children is difficult and rewarding in equal measures. While there are sure to be some frustrating moments working together gives us a chance to examine how we interact with one another as a family.
The three strategies we have covered should help to resolve conflicts when the whole family are stuck at home. But don’t limit yourself to just these. Try out new things and talk with your children to see what works and what doesn’t. Maybe they can communicate to you an idea that works for your household. Family arguments are commonplace and new conflicts will always emerge. But at least this way you will feel more prepared to deal with them during this stressful time. No doubt this will become something that will help your family develop and grow stronger than before.