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What Should I Do if My Family Fights?

"You're wrong!"
"Be quiet!"
"Stop it!"
"I hate you!"

When the people in your family are fighting, it's hard to figure out what to do. You may be feeling sad, ashamed, or even angry when it happens. Whatever your feelings are, what you probably want most is for the fighting to stop.

When Your Parents Fight

It can be pretty tough when your parents or stepparents are fighting. Remember, even people who love each other fight sometimes. And just because they fight doesn't mean they're going to stay mad for long or that they're going to get a divorce.

It's natural for people who live together and spend a lot of time with each other to sometimes disagree and lose their tempers. Just think of the last time you and your brother or sister got into a fight. You didn't really mean all those things you said, did you? In the end, you probably made up. The same goes for parents.

If you get really upset when your parents fight, you might want to talk to them about your feelings. Sometimes, parents don't realize that their arguing makes kids feel upset. If you tell them how you feel, they'll probably try to stop or at least explain to you why they are disagreeing.

When You Fight With Your Parents

It's hard to believe it, but your parents were once kids, too. It might seem like they don't understand you — but don't give up. Remember that they don't really want to make things difficult for you. Your parents care about you, but sometimes it's just hard for them to easily see your point of view.

A parent's job is to look out for you and keep you safe — until you're old enough to take care of yourself (and some parents have trouble giving up watching out for their kids even then)!

Usually, kids who fight with their parents learn to get along with them eventually. This is especially true if kids are able to talk to their parents about how they feel and what's important to them.

Keep in mind, though, that this can take time and a lot of patience. It's not always easy. Talking to your parents about your opinions — instead of screaming and yelling at them — will also make them listen to you a little more closely. Plus, you'll gain respect and learn how to compromise with them.

When You Fight With a Brother or Sister

Is your little sister always taking your stuff? Is your big brother always picking on you? If you're fighting with your brother or sister a lot and competing for attention from your parents, that's called sibling rivalry. It's completely natural to get into arguments with your siblings.

If you're really bothered by your siblings, however, you might want to talk to them about what's going on. Most of the time, your siblings will listen because deep down (even though they don't like to admit it) they really do like you and don't want to fight either.

Tips on Family Fighting

If you're upset or angry, try to keep your cool. Sometimes, the more you show your anger or frustration, the more the person you're fighting with will want to annoy you. Try coming up with an idea that can solve your conflict or problem so it doesn't happen again. For example, if you're fighting over who gets to play on the computer, make up a chart with a schedule of when each person gets to use it.

If you feel like you're so angry you could burst, go to your room and punch your pillow, go out and run a lap around the block, or find a place outside to hit a baseball. Or just find a quiet place and relax. Count to 10 and breathe slowly and deeply. When you're calm, try talking things out with the person you're arguing with. You'll probably feel much better and more in control than you did before.

Even if you're angry at someone in your family, you should never push, punch, kick, or shove. You could really hurt or injure the person, besides causing him or her to get more angry and the argument to get even worse. If someone physically hurts you, it's important to tell a parent. It's also important to tell an adult you trust if your parent ever hurts you.

If you think your family needs to work on this, you could call a family meeting to talk about it. In the meeting, everyone should get a chance to talk and a chance to suggest solutions. It's a good way to get everyone working on the problems together.

Sometimes, your parent may ask everyone to visit a family counselor or therapist to talk about the problems and get advice from a professional on how to deal with (and stop) the fighting in your family. It's not always easy to stop families from fighting, but by working together, it can be done.

Reviewed by: W. Douglas Tynan, PhD, ABPP
Date reviewed: November 2011

Related Articles
K    Getting Along With Brothers and Sisters
K    Taking Charge of Anger
K    Talking About Your Feelings
K    Train Your Temper
K    What Kids Say About: Arguing
K    When Your Parents Fight
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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