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          Action Plan to Avoid Fighting in Front of the Kids

          July 13, 2005

          Once you’ve made the decision to never fight in front of your children again, use these strategies to help you stick to that plan:

          • Turn around and walk away if you think you’ll have a hard time dealing with your urge to fight. Decide that you don’t care if your partner sets your skirt on fire. Recognize that when you don’t walk away, you are attacking your kids, putting your need to explode ahead of their well-being and peace of mind.
          • After you walk away, write down everything you’re thinking and feeling, so you can give it to each other later and discuss — when the kids aren’t around.
          • Then, get one of the kids and tell them three reasons that you love them and think they’re special. It takes 100 “atta girls” to erase one “you’re not worth the trouble.”
          • Decide on a visual cue with your spouse — holding up a card, for instance — to signal that a fight is starting and it’s time to nip it in the bud.
          • If you’re going to have a discussion, take it somewhere private and conduct it hand-in-hand with your mate. Deal with your partner closely and personally. It makes it easier to communicate, and much harder to argue.
          • Take the word “anger” out of your vocabulary. (Words like “steamed” or “ticked off” aren’t allowed either.) Instead, replace it with what is at the root of the anger — possibly fear, hurt or frustration (or all three).
          • Express your needs to your partner. He/She may not already know what those needs are. Be articulate. State what you need plainly and specifically. Remain calm.
          • Work out the problem. Cooperation, not competition, is the idea here, so take some time to calm down before finding a solution to the issue.
          • Share a moment of peace to reaffirm your bond once a resolution or decision has been reached. This might be, for example, a silent 60-second hug, or looking into one another’s eyes for a minute. 

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