Discussion can be the best way to resolve of hard feelings and frustration…though the key is to do it correctly. Choosing the wrong way, time or words can cause relationship meltdown and make problems worse.
WHERE TO CLEAR THE AIR: Do not use Facebook or Twitter as a tool to convey your feelings. #1 it is public. #2 it allows others to comment which cannot be conducive to clearing the air #3 it is plain rude.
A face to face sit down is the best, most private way, of discussing a relationship problem. A meeting at a public place (park, coffee house, bench) will keep the ground neutral and also ensure voices are kept down too.
If the relationship issue is with a spouse, friend or neighbour ensure that your discussion is done without kids around. #1 Kids listen. #2 Kids repeat. #3 Kids can escalate emotion (if they decide to have a meltdown the moment you are getting down to details with your friend – your emotions may rise because of the meltdown environment rather than stay steady to resolve the issue).
WHEN TO DO IT: Discuss relationship matters when you have the suitable amount of time to dedicate (i.e. don’t try to squeeze in a “you hurt my feelings” phone call as you are rushing the kids out the door to swimming lessons.)
Also, try not to make resolution meetings when you are fatigued (i.e. the baby had you up all night).When your mind is clear you are in a better place emotionally to discuss issues.
WHAT TO SAY: Keep your words respectful, un-accusing and in the moment. Don’t bring up situations from years past. Don’t bring in the actions of other people. Keep your discussion focused and honest with the person in front of you.
If your issue is with your child (or between your child and another child) remember to keep your vocabulary age appropriate (“You pissed me off” will not work and neither will “Your behaviour was counter-productive to my actions”). Use positive words that they understand.
With kids, get down to their level (so you are not intimidating). Don’t wave fingers or use threatening gestures. Keep your voice calm. Reiterate house rules and behaviour rules (“We do not hit, “We do not jump on furniture”) and discuss the reasons for those rules (“You’ll hurt yourself”, “The furniture is not a playground”). Be firm but understanding. If an apology is in order – tell the child the discussion is not over until there is an “I’m sorry”. Ask for the child to repeat back the solution to the issue (“We don’t hit”, “The furniture is not a toy”) to ensure they fully understand the issue.
When it comes to resolving a relationship problem it is also important to listen to what the other party has to say. Clearing the air is not a one-way rant from you. You need to be open and accepting to the feelings of the other party.
Discussing problems is a life-lesson. It teaches kids how to cope with authority and rules in the greater world. It shows them even parents have conflict – but see it can be resolved in a respectful and positive way. Clearing the air can make relationships stronger and better. Solid relationships are the foundations of our lives as parents.