Sometimes fighting in front of the kids can't be avoided. Here are some things to remember:
- FIGHT FAIR: Children learn a lot about resolving conflict by watching their parents. Therefore,
no name calling and no shaming.
- IMMEDIATELY STOP IF THEY APPEAR DISTRESSED: Sometimes parental fighting is terrifying to children.
If your children start to cry as a result or appear frightened, call a timeout, and try to resolve it later after you
both cool down
- REASSURE THEM BOTH DURING AND AFTER THE FIGHT: Children can tolerate a certain amount of conflict
if they know that the parents made up. Let your children know with your words and your actions that the fight is over.
- APOLOGIZE TO YOUR SPOUSE IN FRONT OF THE KIDS IF YOU WERE OUT OF LINE: Let them see that you can take
responsibility for your communication if you didn't do a good job with it.
- DON'T PUT THEM IN THE MIDDLE: Making your kids take sides with you is bad for them. Keep the conflict between you and your spouse.
Dr. Coleman is a frequent guest on the Today Show, NPR, The BBC, and San Francisco's View from the Bay. He has also appeared on ABC 20/20, Good Morning America, America Online Coaches and numerous news programs for FOX, ABC, CNN, and NBC television. He is a psychologist in private practice with offices in San Francisco and Oakland, California and is a Senior Fellow with the Council on Contemporary Families. He has served on the clinical faculties of The University of California at San Francisco, The Wright Institute Graduate School of Psychology, and the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group. His advice has been featured in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, The San Francisco Chronicle, Parenting Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, and many others. He is also a contributing editor for Twins Magazine. Dr. Coleman is the author of four books and his books have been translated into Chinese, Croatian, and Korean, and are also available in the U.S., U.K., and throughout Europe.