A family comprises members each of whom has their own opinions and feelings. There are possibilities of disagreements or conflicts between family members. In most cases, these are minor and get resolved on their own.

There can be situations where conflicts can be serious and lead to major problems. It is important that these situations be handled in the right way, so the conflicts are resolved. This guide provides you with information on how to handle a family conflict effectively.

Why do conflicts occur?

Conflicts can occur in any group. Within a family, conflicts are natural due to various causes.

  • Lack of proper communication leads to conflicts. When family members fail to understand each other, conflict can occur. This is a common cause of conflicts in most homes.
  • Money matters is another common reason for conflicts. Disagreement on financial issues can cause strife. This can lead to fights between siblings, spouses, and parents and their children.
  • When members of the family have different goals and expectations, conflicts can occur. 
  • When two different families get together, it can lead to conflicts as the new members may not get along well with each other.
  • A clash in individual values can lead to conflicts.

How to handle conflicts?

Every family would experience conflicts at some time or the other. It is important that these conflicts be managed in a calm and tactful way. The goal should be to identify the root cause of the conflict and resolve it. Here are some tips that can help you carry out family conflict resolution effectively.

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1. Talk it out, but after things are cool

The best way to handle any conflict is by talking it out. Sit and talk to the person with whom there is a conflict. If required, the entire family can sit together and discuss issues. What is important is that this is done after things cool down. When tempers are running high, sitting for discussion can be counter-productive.

It can lead to more arguments and worsen the situation. Allow things to settle down before initiating a discussion. You can even plan a family dinner or outing to allow things to calm down. The day can then end with a talk to address the problem.

2. Look at things from others’ perspective

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. This will help you understand why they are angry and behaving in the way they are. Think dispassionately and analyze why the other person is angry or disturbed. This will help you look at things from the other person’s perspective. Such a process will help you understand the root of the conflict better.

You can then think of a solution that addresses the problem. When discussing with the other person, allow them to share their opinion and their perspectives. Let them know you are understanding their feelings and want to help in arriving at a solution. This is a good way to resolve conflicts amicably.

3. ‘I’ not ‘You’

During discussions, avoid using ‘You’ and instead use ‘I’. When there is a conflict and tempers are frayed, using ‘you’ can cause problems. When you make a statement using the word ‘you’ it sounds as though the other person is being accused. This can make the other person feel defensive or even make them aggressive worsening the situation.

Use ‘I’ while talking. This lets the other person know you are talking about your feelings. It is also a way of taking responsibility for your actions. This is a simple tip but can help in making communication better.

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4. Discuss the impact of the conflict

Most people do not realize the impact of a conflict. While talking, highlight how the conflict is affecting the entire family. In particular, stress the effect of the conflict on children and teens. Highlight how relationships can be permanently damaged and the family can break apart.

When everyone understands the impact of the conflict, it would help them understand others better. They can understand what others are feeling. This can make them change their views and action.

5. Get help from others

If you cannot handle the issue on your own, don’t hesitate to get support. You can reach out to other family members or even friends. They can help in bringing conflicting members together to work out a solution. When even this does not work, you need professional help. Counseling can help resolve conflicts.

Consult a professional and experienced counselor. They would use their experience to bring people together and get to the root of the problem. Counselors or therapy can help in bringing about a solution to the conflict. 

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