Dr. Phil says fighting in front of your kids is nothing short of abuse. Children learn what they live — is that what you really want to teach them? Make the decision to never fight in front of your children, and use these tools to stick to your plan:
1. Walk Away
Decide that you don’t care if your spouse sets your skirt on fire, you will turn around and walk away. Start equating loving your children with controlling your impulses. Recognize that when you don't walk away, you are essentially attacking your kids, putting your need to explode ahead of their well-being and peace of mind.
2. Write It Down
After you walk away, write down everything you're thinking and feeling, so you can give it to your partner later. Then you’ll discuss when the kids aren't around.
3. Find a Visual Cue
Decide on a visual cue with your spouse — holding up a hand for instance — to signal that a fight is brewing. As soon as you recognize that, take a deep breath and acknowledge the need to save it for later when the kids aren’t around. There will be plenty of time to discuss — even argue — when you’re not near them.
4. Take It Private and Keep It Private
If you're going to have a discussion, take it somewhere private and deal with your partner closely and personally. It makes it easier to communicate, and much harder to argue.
5. Replace the Word “Anger” with Your True Feelings
Take the word "anger" out of your vocabulary. (Words like "steamed" or "ticked off" aren't allowed either.) Instead, replace it with what is at the root of the anger — possibly fear, hurt or frustration (or all three). Then you’ll actually get somewhere when you talk to one another about how you truly feel.
6. Open Up and Reveal Your Needs
Express your needs to your partner plainly and specifically. He/She may not already know what those needs are. Remain calm as you express them, even if you think he/she should already know and meet them.
7. Find a Solution
Work out the problem. Cooperation, not competition, is the idea, so take some time to calm down before finding a solution to the issue.
8. Finish with Affection
Once a resolution or a decision has been reached, share a moment of peace to reaffirm your bond. This might be, for example, a silent 60-second hug, or looking into one another's eyes for a minute.
9. Repair the Damage
If you do still fight in front of your kids, tell them: “Mom and Dad were upset with each other. Sometimes, people disagree. But we still love you and we still love each other.” Tell each of your kids three reasons that you love them and think they're special. It takes 100 "atta girls" or “atta boys” to erase one "you're not worth the trouble” — which is what they hear when you’re fighting in front of them.