Here are several ways to reduce the negative effects of arguing with your spouse or partner on your children:
- Try to keep your disputes away from your children as much as possible.
- If an argument does happen in front of them, or close enough for them to hear or see, avoid becoming very loud or intense.
- If an argument does happen in front of them, or close enough for them to hear or see, discuss solutions, and end it. Make up as soon as you can, so that the children can see that the argument is over and can learn how to resolve conflict from your example.
- Try not to confuse your children by arguing one minute and then being overly sweet to each other the next in an attempt to make up for the harshness of the disagreement.
- After your children have seen you arguing, don't deny it. Instead, reassure them that while you were upset with each other, you still care about each other.
- Assure your children that the fighting is not their fault.
- Make sure neither you nor your partner places your children in the middle of your conflicts by forcing them to take sides.
- Try not to justify the arguments with excuses like "I'm just having a bad day" or "I'm just angry."
If there is any physical violence when you argue, or if your arguments are starting to affect your children's behaviour, it's time to get some help. Consult your doctor for referrals to appropriate family services in your area. If you are in Canada, and you wish to speak to a counsellor about this, contact Parent Help Line, 1-888-603-9100.