Break the Fighting Routine

Fighting is easy. That’s why so many families do it.Yet anger doesn't bring out our wisest solutions to problems! Tune into your family’s behavioral routines to quench those flaring tempers.
We Never Disagree

Too bad. You’re missing an opportunity to learn to love your kids and be loved yourself. These excerpts from Joanne Miller and Scott Turansky Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids
- bring insights into how those fiery incidents flame up in homes and
- ignite your hope to build up family explosion-resistance.

Creatures of Habit 

Chances are you don’t drink your coffee black one morning, sip herbal tea the next day, and down cold milk for breakfast on the third. Instead, you choose a morning routine to free up your mind and energy for more creative or important tasks. People are creatures of habit.

We also have behavioural routines…like when children are unhappy about something so they try to engage their parents in a fight. “It’s as if they step into the boxing ring and invite you to join them,” explain Miller and Turansky. Many common behavioural routines take us, parents, right into the opponent’s spot. We punch it out with sarcasm, mean words, bringing up the past, and more.

Be a Boxing and Life Coach

It’s OK to be angry, reassure Miller and Turansky, because anger provides a signal that behavioural patterns need to change. Their warning: “Anger is good for identifying problems but not good for solving them…Separate the trigger of anger from the response…Your choice to respond in a more gentle or creative way may be just the thing that helps a person change.”

When your kid invites you into the boxing ring, consider going around to his side to coach him on conflict resolution. It does require more effort in the short run. It’s also the long term (and payback can come pretty quickly) alternative that brings household harmony. Life harmony too. Miller and Turansky remind us that our “children will face situations that involve correction, disappointment, temptation, following directions, and bad attitudes for the rest of their lives."

Tune In To Your Routines

Miller and Turansky encourage parents to get the kids involved in thinking about the family routines too.
- Define the word “routine.” If conflict arises, use the dictionary!
- Identify positive habits (during meal times, when having fun…) in your home. Be proud of what you do well
- Consider (don’t belabour the fact) that you might have some negative behavioural habits. “Oh yeah, …..”
- End on a positive note (“Very perceptive. Congratulations.”). It empowers kids to change.
- Start an anger-trigger log. Discover our example.

Signal Like a Team

It’s Rugby World Cup time and constructive fighting is the name of the game. In a team, they communicate and signal. Devise your family’s signal to warn of the monster fighting routine. Some ideas:
- Say “BOO!” We regularly play hide and surprise. The one hiding jumps out laughing, “BOO!” That’s what these habits do. They pop up unexpectedly.
- Let the kids choose the signal. Our pre-teens hummed and hawed. It’s embarrassing to admit to being a fighter. They settled for, “Just tell us straight, Mom.”
- Create a coded question. My 7 year old son and I devised a question which means, “Did you catch my love for you?” (Our question is coded so it does not sound this corny in public.) When I start emitting negative vibes, he asks me the question. It stops me in my tracks.

Being aware of a negative habit is the first step to breaking it. Bon courage.

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