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  • You Can't Avoid Fighting In Front Of The Kids. How To Do It Without Scaring Them

    There’s a way to argue if a disagreement happens and the kids can hear you.
    by Kitty Elicay .
You Can't Avoid Fighting In Front Of The Kids. How To Do It Without Scaring Them
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Kids should not see parents fight, but no matter how hard mom and dad try, sometimes it’s just inevitable. Arguments happen to every couple and if the little ones somehow hear it, parents need to show them that people can disagree without being mean to each other.

    Children look up to you as role models, so it’s better to set a few ground rules with your partner before a fight breaks out and the kids are within earshot. In an interview with PopSugar, Andrew Roffman, CSW, director of the Family Studies Program at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone suggests to “assert your position without criticizing the other person. No belittling that person or their ideas. Avoid using sarcasm.”

    More importantly, Roffman says the goal is to understand the perspective of your partner and not to refute him. When you do, provide validation for what you hear. For example, Roffman suggests saying things like, “I understand why you feel that way, I understand how that could make you angry, or I understand why that’s important to you.”

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    When you abide by these guidelines, you are showing your children that even if you are arguing, you are still treating that person with respect. You don’t let the situation get out of control because you still care for each other.

    In the event that your feelings get the better of you, Roffman advises parents to take responsibility when they cannot regulate their emotions. “Take a parental timeout,” he says, then go back to your discussion once the two of you have calmed down.

    It is also important to be aware of your child’s behavior while you are arguing. Even if they can’t understand the words you say or what you’re fighting about, toddlers still know when you and your husband are angry at each other.

    “Even 6-month-olds are acutely sensitive to all types of conflict between Mom and Dad — that includes bickering, hostility, and defensiveness, as well as physical fights,” says psychologist E. Mark Cummings, Ph.D., to Parents.

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    If your children are anxious, crying, or look scared, take a step back from the argument. Even if you think you and hubby are only having a minor argument, if the kids look nervous then it might be too intense for them. Roffman also suggests avoiding behavior that show arrogance or contempt for your partner. This includes eye rolling and dismissive comments, like, “Wala akong pakialam sa’yo.” Remember, young kids are likely to copy you and this is not an example you want to set for them.

    If you can, talk to your kids after the fight. Explain and reassure them that the fight has nothing to do with them. “Toddlers are still egocentric and self-centered, and they think everything that happens around them is in reference to them,” says child psychiatrist Anna Josefina Vazquez-Genuino, MD, a founding fellow of the Philippine Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, in a previous SmartParenting.com.ph article. “So if a child witnesses a fight, he would think, ‘Maybe they are fighting or hurting each other because of something I did.”

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    Vazquez adds that it’s important that your child also sees that you and your husband have patched things up and suggests hugging each other afterward. “Show the child na nagkakasundo rin kayo after a fight,” she says.

    No relationship is perfect, and it can even be said that fights are healthy — as long as you fight fair. At the end of the day, what is crucial is that your kids feel secure knowing mom and dad loves them — and each other — no matter what.

    When bickering with your partner, there are things you need to avoid saying because you will regret it. Click here for a guide.

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