Tense, nervous household?      


What to do when things get fraught.




Having to spend so much time together with other family members when we are not used to it and feeling confined is not easy. Try to be aware of the levels of tension in the house. Who is getting stressy? Are the children beginning to squabble? Here are some thoughts and ideas about how to avoid the arguing and keep things as harmonious as possible.


A space for everyone


Everyone both children and adults will benefit from having their own place in the house where they can go to have some quiet or calming down time. This could be their bedroom or, for younger children you need to monitor, a space or corner in another room. The idea is for the child (or adult) to take themselves to their space if they are aware of becoming stressed or starting to feel angry. Alternately you may ask if they would like some time to themselves and suggest it.  It is not meant to be somewhere they are sent to as a punishment but a strategy to stop stress or anger escalating into full scale argument. Everyone should respect this need and leave them alone when they are there. Perhaps each person could create a notice to remind others of this, eg. ‘In my space’ or ‘Cooling off’ etc. If the space is not in their bedroom allow them to make it comfortable with some cushions and to do things there they find calming such as listening to music, colouring or drawing etc. You may want to negotiate what is an appropriate amount of time for a cooling down period or they could use it as a reason for spending all their time in their room!


Handling an argument.


So when the argument has already broken out between siblings, or child and adult, try to keep as calm as possible. Even if others are shouting do not respond by raising your voice. Tell those involved to sit down if possible and say something positive such as “It’s really important we try to stay calm with each other even when we feel irritated. I’m sure we can sort this out.” If asking them immediately what it is that has made them feel angry is likely to fuel the disagreement then say everyone needs some time to think about it and you will speak to them later, which you must remember to do. Distract them from their angry feelings by getting them to separate. You could suggest that either they have some ‘me time’ and do something by themselves or give one or more a quick task such as sending them to another part of the house to collect something and bring it to you. It gets them away from the situation and helps them start cooling down.


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