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How to Cope With Family Conflict

No matter how closely knit a family is, conflict is inevitable. Conflict is natural and shouldn't be ignored. Coping with recurring conflict requires open dialogue and a keen understanding of your family's issues, combined with a willingness to work toward harmonious resolutions. The right coping strategies will not only help you get through the current argument, but also prevent future conflicts.

Decide if the conflict is worth addressing. To minimize the negative impact of arguments and conflict, you must only address major or recurring issues, as explained by the American Academy of Pediatrics 1. If the conflict is over a minor difference, the best coping strategy may be to just leave it alone and let everybody cool off for a few hours.

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Stay calm. Whether addressing a major issue or letting a minor conflict pass, it is essential that you remain in control of your emotions. Even for a major conflict, the discussion can wait a few hours as everybody calms down. Iowa State University Extension recommends taking deep breaths or a long walk to deal with onsets of anger during family arguments 2. If you expect the rest of the family to remain calm, you must also keep your anger in check.

Set reasonable guidelines for discussing conflict. Reaching a mutually agreeable resolution will help both parties cope with the conflict and move past it. This can only occur if arguments focus on the issues rather than on name-calling or other personal attacks. It's also important that each family member gets a turn to speak.

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Listen to the family's concerns and be willing to compromise. Ongoing family conflicts can reach peaceful resolutions is everyone is focused on creating win-win outcomes. Compromise is not possible if you do not actively listen to individual concerns.

Remain optimistic concerning the issue. Positivity will help rebuild family relationships and prevent future conflict; just make sure you're realistic in your expectations. Realistic optimism and open dialogue will help you cope with ongoing family crises, according to the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension 2.

Seek outside help from a family counselor. Family therapy will help your family resolve existing conflicts, according to 3. Therapy will provide better results than simply bringing in a friend, family member or other third party to mediate 3. However, in some instances third-party mediation can work, but only if you recognize and address any possible family alliances or biases beforehand, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics 1.