If you think there is a family out there who’s never had a fight, you may be overly optimistic. Every family and couple deals with moments of frustration and tension, which often leads to a mild or serious family conflict. Regardless of how healthy a family dynamic is, there will always be challenging moments to overcome.
Human beings are highly complex. And when the complexities of two or more individuals come into contact, there are high chances this will result in conflict. If you are worried about how to handle family conflict, you are not alone. There are many people who feel ill-equipped to solve family conflict and stress, let alone live a harmonious and peaceful family life.
Fortunately, therapy is an excellent tool anyone can use to better their relationships with their loved ones and learn how to resolve family conflict in a more adaptive way. Are you wondering how you can use this valuable resource to enjoy a more fulfilling family life? This article will offer you some clear guidelines on how you can make the most of therapy to decrease family conflict.
1. Learn to Communicate Effectively
You might be surprised to find out that most conflicts between people stem from their communication style. The words, tone of voice, and non-verbal cues we use can trigger certain emotional reactions in others. These emotional reactions can then lead people to act in irrational or aggressive ways, which then activates a cycle of emotional communication.
And this is how all types of family conflicts start out. Even if the cause of the conflict might only be a minor issue that can be easily resolved, the way people talk to each other is what often causes the biggest instances of family conflict. For example, those who have an aggressive or defensive communication style might come across as closed or rigid. As a result of this, those involved in the conflict will not be given a chance to solve the problem collaboratively.
In contrast, other communication styles lead to a more efficient conflict resolution. Take, for example, assertive communication – this entails conveying your opinions from a place of self-assuredness while remaining firm and fair but also empathetic towards the needs of others.
Some other components of assertive communication are:
By paying careful attention to what the other person has to say, you offer them the opportunity to feel heard and acknowledged during a family conflict. This is different from accepting insults or words of abuse from someone else. One way in which you can let the other person know that you are willing to listen to them is by saying, “I see you feel angry. But I am here to listen to you and see if we can work this out together”.
When you invite the other person in this type of warm, honest, and empathic communication, you create a safe space where all emotions and opinions are accepted and can be worked through.
Voice your opinions and needs confidently and tactfully
Expressing your needs and wants during conflicts in your interpersonal relationships helps others better understand your expectations and views on certain matters. As a result, they will not have to guess or estimate how you feel and will be better equipped to meet your needs or understand them.
Remain open to constructive criticism
Let’s admit it. No one holds the supreme truth all the time. In family conflict, it is very likely that all individuals involved are responsible for it to a certain degree. Even if you are focused on expressing your views and wants, make sure you always leave room for others to offer you criticism or even compliments.
Constructive feedback can contain valuable information about yourself that you can use for your personal development; therefore, it is a good idea to pay attention to the things others have to say, too.
2. Learn to Manage Your Anger
Another important aspect of solving family conflict is knowing how to manage difficult emotions, such as anger or frustration. There is nothing wrong with feeling those challenging emotions from time to time – everyone will have moments when anger or resentment gets the best of them. It’s more important to become aware of how to manage and minimize these emotional reactions so that they do not spill out into your relationships with people.
Keep in mind that the emotions we feel will always shape, to varying degrees, the way we communicate with others. For example, if we feel calm and content, we are more likely to be open to new ideas, collaborative, and trusting. On the other hand, if we feel infuriated and irritable, our communication style is more likely to be aggressive, closed, or unfriendly.
This is why learning an adaptive communication style almost always goes hand in hand with effective emotional regulation during a family conflict. While emotional regulation is not always an easy task, remember that at the end of the day, it’s still a skill that can be practiced and learned. Some ways you can do this are:
Ask for support from a therapist
There is no better place to learn and practice anger management than with a therapist. They are the best resource to guide you on how you can identify and work with your emotions during instances of family conflict. The good news is that you can opt for online therapy sessions, which work just as effectively as in-person therapy when it comes to anger management.
Practice emotional regulation tools
Besides therapy, it is very important to have a toolkit of strategies you can rely on when faced with an intense emotional reaction. You may consider strategies such as breathing techniques, mindfulness, listening to music, journaling, or any other tool that reduces the intensity of your emotions during a family conflict. This article explains in more depth how you can work with anger and what strategies you implement in this process.
Include assertive communication techniques
These can entail using more “I” statements to emphasize basic assertions and get your point across in a firm way or being empathic when trying to understand how the other person perceives the situation. One example you can use during a family conflict is: “I feel very vulnerable when you shout at me. It would mean a lot to me if we could speak about this problem in a calmer manner.”
By doing this, we focus on what happens within us instead of blaming the other person. It is also very important to show empathy when using assertive communication. Showing empathy makes others feel seen and heard, which, in the long term, will lead to better communication and family conflict resolution.
3. Develop Conflict Management Skills
Sooner or later, conflict with our loved ones will always happen. It is more important to learn how to manage and navigate family conflict than unrealistically hope it will never happen.
How can you develop conflict management skills?
The best idea is to start with learning non-aggressive communication and emotional regulation skills, which were described earlier. A therapist is the best person to support you during this process.
Start Developing Conflict Management Skills TodayTry Online Therapy
4. Work Together Towards Resolution
Another important point for how to handle family conflict is involving everyone in the process. This means giving all people involved in the conflict the opportunity to voice their concerns and needs and express how they want the problem to be solved.
Sometimes, it is necessary to compromise when trying to meet a shared goal. Compromising might mean taking into account the other person’s needs and opinions and making an effort to meet them halfway.
Family conflict is best resolved when everyone makes an effort to agree with a solution. It cannot be solved by just one person, as this would create imbalance and dysfunction in the family. Instead, everyone involved in the conflict is required to come together and do the work.
5. Try Family Therapy
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to resolve conflict by ourselves, we still need professional support. Many families out there benefit from the guidance of a trained therapist who knows how to identify the source of family conflict. The great news is that you can also opt for online therapy if getting to in-person sessions is an issue for you.
Family counseling is the best solution for those who want to learn to deal with recurring conflicts and misunderstandings. It aims to teach families various components of a healthy dynamic, such as boundaries, improved communication, defining tools for coping with conflict, and improving their problem-solving abilities.
Family therapy and online counseling interventions are effective, safe, and always take into account the well-being of all members, including children.
There are various family therapy approaches you can choose from, such as:
- Functional family therapy – this focuses on helping family members find tools and strategies to improve their overall functioning.
- Multisystemic therapy – this therapeutic approach includes wider systems involved in a family’s well-being, such as schools, neighborhoods, and other social groups.
Staying Together as a Family
If you struggle with family conflict, make sure you don’t let this compromise the integrity of your family. Addressing issues as they arise is key to the mental well-being of all family members. By seeking out online therapy from a therapist who specializes in working with families, you can use conflicts as a way to learn about the other members of your family and become more resilient in managing future conflicts.