Arguing Well for your Child’s Sake by Liza
What happens when you and a loved one argue?
Do you hear each other?
Do you respect each other?
Can you remain calm in the face of adversary?
Can you maintain respectful language and tone of voice even when your emotions are raging?
If you answered no to any of these questions you may like to re-evaluate how you argue, for your sake and for your child’s. Your children are looking to you for guidance and one of the most important lessons that they we can teach them is how to interact with others in a positive way and this includes arguing well.
Disagreements are a natural and inevitable part of all relationships, so why do they cause us so much grief? Presumably, it is not because we want everyone to be our clone that agrees with everything we say. Even when we completely disagree with someone else, hearing what they have to say is valuable and interesting because it gives us insight into a different perspective.
The misunderstandings, anger and tears that often accompany arguments comes not from the fact that we disagree
but from the emotions that the disagreement produces. If we can learn to manage our emotions and remain respectful when we argue, then we can begin to really hear the other person and this is the key to arguing well. You may not be able to agree but at least you can hear each other and voice your opinion without fear.
Managing your emotions does not mean repressing them, it means communicating them without allowing them to take control of you. Last weekend I found myself getting very irritated with my spouse. We were on the way to my nephew’s third birthday and we were running late.
I was anxious not to be late as it was a short party and I didn’t want to arrive halfway through and interrupt everyone. All morning I had been trying to get everything ready to leave and I was frustrated at how long it was taking me. This frustration turned to irritation as I watched my partner casually emailing and browsing the internet. I felt upset that we would be arriving late and angry that my partner wouldn’t help me get our son ready to leave.
Letting my emotions run a muck I felt myself gearing up for some powerful eye-rolling and sighing while I did everything pointedly by myself, glaring at my partner whenever I got the chance.However, as hard as it was I managed to pull myself back and realise that behaving like that would do no one any favors, least of all me.
Instead I waited until we were on our way and both of us were calm and then I said that it was important for me to arrive on time and I was upset that we were going to be late. I didn’t blame my partner, it was not his fault and in his mind being late to a birthday party is not a problem.
Discussing our different views on this allowed both of us to see the other person’s point of view
and discuss what we could do differently next time.
It is much harder to regulate your emotions when an argument deeply effects something that is very important to you. If you need to discuss something that is upsetting, personal or may infuriate the other person we need to think carefully about approaching these topics.
These discussions will only ever be productive if both people are in the right mood
to talk about it. Find a time that is free of distraction, when you are both well rested and fed. A useful tool for these discussions is reflective listening, in which one person speaks and the other person reflects back what they have heard.
Once the speaker clarifies that they have been heard correctly, it is the next persons turn to talk. While this may feel rigid at first it will allow both people to speak and know that they have been heard, it also slows down the process making it harder for emotions to take over.
When we pause and reflect on what the other person has said we don’t leap straight into an emotive response.
Within half an hour of a disagreement it is important to repair the situation before stress cortisol has a chance to build up in your brain. You can do this by stating that while you may not agree with the other person you respect them and you love them.
As your children grow up they will need to argue with you to show you how they are different from you. They need you to be able to listen to them and accept them in their differences. Monitor all your interactions and argue well so that you can teach your children to do the same.
Guest Post by Liza
Liza Cumming is mum to one year old Finn. She writes a baby and food blog pramsandwich , where she shares her parenting thoughts, stories, recipes, cafe finds and love letters. Liza is a regular contributor to Positive Parenting Connection.
Liza is also a contributor to the Positive Parenting Connection Facebook Page – come check it out for daily tips, inspiration and resources for positive parenting!