5 Ways to Reduce Family Conflict and Stress

family conflict and stress

Do you sometimes feel as if your family is just a powder keg waiting to ignite again? That you, your spouse, and your kids are always moving from one conflict to the next, with moments of peace few and far between? It can be exhausting and discouraging. But here’s the good news: Every family—no matter what its challenges—can reduce conflict in the home.

The first and most important step is to realize the toll constant fighting takes on your relationships and even your health. Conflict is stressful, and life is stressful enough already! It’s also necessary to realize that problems can be solved without fireworks and yelling. We just have to be intentional about it.

Find out how to make your home a happier, calmer place to live by kicking unnecessary conflict to the curb.

1. Make expectations clear.

All sorts of conflicts arise when others don’t understand—or can, at least, claim not to understand—the expectations or rules. When your child wants to go to a friend’s house, but you say no because his daily chores haven’t been completed. Was the rule clearly spelled out? When your husband is irritated about going to dinner with friends because he wanted to watch the big game at home. Did both of you communicate promptly about plans so that adjustments could be made? Make it your goal to practically overcommunicate to eliminate those tensions that come from undercommunicating.

2. Slow down.

When your household calendar looks like a New York City train schedule, you have very little room for the unexpected. Therefore, when the unexpected arises, it feels like a crisis—and crisis is a fertile ground for conflict. Create some margin for your family by leaving some blank space on the calendar in which to handle the unknown—or even just to rest. (Remember that?) So when the science project requires more green paint and 200 additional pipe cleaners, you have time to pick up the supplies without having a nervous breakdown and yelling. When your husband is running late getting home from work, you can relax and just wait for him without worrying about the next commitment on the schedule that his tardiness is effecting.

3. Watch your tone and volume.

Sometimes family conflict and stress spikes not because of what we say, but how we say it. Be intentional about speaking to family members—even when you’re tired or upset—with a calm, respectful tone. It is possible to say hard things, but not say them in a harsh way. {Tweet This} So when you feel your anxiety rising in a particular moment, take a deep breath and try to say what needs to be said in a fashion that addresses the issue without racheting up the level of conflict.

4. Choose grace.

If we want to, we can find something to take issue with in just about every situation. We can choose to assume that an offense was intentional, or recognize that it might have been completely unintentional. We can decide to throw the book at our husband or kids, or we can decide that maybe this time, a different approach would work better. We all receive grace daily from those who cut us some slack on our mistakes—whether we realize it or not. Pay it forward.

5. Be flexible.

People who know how to roll with the punches—the scheduling hiccup, the kid who needs discipline when that’s not what you had planned today, the husband who surprised you by inviting guests at the last minute—are happier people. Sure, there are some values and rules on which you can’t and shouldn’t bend. But all the rest of the daily stuff that lies in the gray area? Try going with the flow sometimes when you really want to dig in your heels and cause a fuss. You will likely find that your home is a happier place and your family relationships are better as a result.

Let’s Talk: How do you promote an atmosphere of peace and harmony in your home while still providing boundaries and discipline for your kids?

Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.