Heart FM recently reported on a survey of the most common cause of arguments between parents and their children. Amongst the top ten causes were things like staying out late, manners and bad language. Not too surprising perhaps but it was the top three causes that caught my attention. In third place was sibling fights, second place, answering back and the top, most common cause of arguments was tidiness of the bedroom. I had to ask myself if these three really justify their position.
Sibling fights are a normal part of growing up in a family and learning to resolve conflict is an important life skill they will need as they mature into adulthood. A general guide is to let them sort it out themselves and only intervene if it becomes physically violent or one child is consistently being victimised or outnumbered by the others.
Answering back can reveal an underlying attitude of disrespect but it can also be a sign that your child feels unheard or overlooked in some way. Sometimes the hurtful words are expressing deeper emotions than just anger and you may need to think carefully about what is behind the outburst.
An untidy bedroom can be a constant source of irritation to a parent. But rather than arguing about it another way could be to let them realise for themselves the consequences of living this way. They will probably learn the importance of keeping it tidy when they get a detention for not handing in the homework they couldn’t find or tread on and break their phone which was laying underneath the pile of clothes they had discarded the night before.
Some time ago I came across some good advice on how to work out which arguments definitely are worth having with your child. The key is to ask yourself three questions:
Is this something that will lead them into
- Physical danger?
- Moral danger?
- Illegal behaviour?
We have tried to use these as a guide as our children have been growing up and it has served us well. I believe we have managed to avoid many unnecessary arguments leaving us enough energy to follow through on the important ones. Each time you find yourself disagreeing with something your children are doing or saying ask yourself those three questions. If the answer is yes to any of them it is worth standing your ground. When your child has finished having their tantrum, shouting, screaming, sulking or however else they choose to vent their disapproval of your decision take time to sit down and explain calmly why you have said no on this occasion. It is not always appreciated or understood at the time but will be remembered in years to come.
So if you want to avoid some of the everyday unnecessary arguments being had in homes across the country you may want to adopt these guidelines for yourself. It won’t be long before you reap the rewards of a home with less conflicts and better family relationships.