With the new Circuit Breaker rules, families all over Singapore are now struggling to maintain their sanity as they are forced to stay home during this period. On top of the stress of work/school, you now have fewer avenues of leisure as you are limited to watching Netflix/Youtube for entertainment.
Tensions amongst family members are also rising and it seems like every little thing is getting on your nerves…your brother ate the last bag of chips without sharing, you have to tell your kids to go and shower 20 times before they actually do it, your parents are stalking you every minute of the day to make sure you are doing HBL on the laptop and not gaming. At this point, some of us are just sick of our family members’ faces! The tiniest thing can spark a family argument and you fear that these 2 months will make your family grow apart…
So what is the secret to stopping your family from fighting and arguing all the time? Well, the key is developing habit-based communication. We are often most relaxed or comfortable around our family members, and so we are used to communicating with them in a fixed way, be it the tone of voice or choice of words. The way we communicate thus becomes a HABIT, and we talk to our family in the same way everyday even if it is ineffective and causes conflict.
To help you, here are 3 ways to develop new habits to communicate effectively with your family and avoid conflict:
1. Understand that there is no “winning” in an argument
When having an argument, we only consider what we want out of the situation, rather than what the other person wants. In the heat of the moment, it is easy to only think of yourself because you are angry! “I want my mother to stop nagging me to stop gaming!” or “Why can’t my son just listen to me so I don’t have to repeat myself!”. This selfishness only makes arguments occur more frequently, because you are not listening to each other, and only thinking of what you want. In the end, you will argue for the sake of arguing. But this can be stopped if you only considered: what does the other person want out of this? Is it a reasonable demand? If it is then you should think of how to reach a compromise instead of arguing!
2. Check your tone
“Tsk! I asked you to do your homework so many times already and you still haven’t done it?!” When we are angry or frustrated, we subconsciously raise our voices when we are talking. Others who hear this will also sense the tension in your voice and respond in the same way. We are used to speaking to our family members in a certain tone because we are so comfortable with them that we don’t stop to think about how the way we speak will make them feel. The next time you find yourself in the middle of an argument, do your best to speak gently and calmly.
3. Guide their behaviour
Focusing on the problem is not going to help you get over it. If you only keep voicing out your frustrations about the problem without suggesting solutions, it will only make everyone involved more frustrated. Trust us when we say that your children do not want to disappoint you either, but harping on the problem repeatedly will only make them more rebellious and not want to find a way to solve it. For example, “Why are you always on your phone? You must be addicted!” VS “Let’s play a card game tonight so that we don’t have to spend so much time on our phones!”. Do you see the difference between telling someone the problem you have with them versus guiding them towards the correct behaviour?
We hope that with these tips, you will be able to make use of this time to bond with your families instead of fighting and arguing all day. Take a look at our other articles on parenting and family rapport What kind of parent are you? and Why Parents DO NOT see Eye-to-Eye with their Kids to learn more about how to build better family bonds during this period. Let’s all stay home, stay safe, and stay sane!