5 Ways to Deal with Tension between You and Your Children

Jennifer Waddle

iBelieve Contributor
Published: Jun 19, 2021
5 Ways to Deal with Tension between You and Your Children

If you’ve ever had a tension headache, you’ve likely experienced the dull pain that starts at the back of your neck and works its way around your entire head. Not only does the tension spread, it can become extremely painful if left untreated. Unfortunately, that’s just how tension works.

When dealing with tension between you and your children, the pain points are similar. Many frustrations start out as small, everyday irritations, but when they become persistent, they can develop into larger, ongoing problems. If too much tension is allowed to persist, it can become a painful source of miscommunication and misunderstanding.

If there’s growing tension between you and your children, here are a few ways to deal with it and hopefully eliminate it before it spreads.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Deagreez

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dad talking to daughter who looks upset, tension between you and your children

1. Address it Sooner Rather Than Later

If you’re anything like me, you’d rather ignore frustrating issues and hope they go away on their own. However, it’s best to address ongoing tension with your children sooner rather than later. Why? Think of it this way: When putting out a flame, it’s always best to douse it when it’s small. Otherwise, it might become a raging fire that is difficult to fight.

While some kids will resist talking about their frustrations, there is a way to get them to open up. According to this article, “When kids can't or won't discuss their stressful issues, try talking about your own. This shows that you're willing to tackle tough topics and are available to talk with when they're ready.”

Of course, discernment is needed when discussing your own issues with your kids. Some topics are better left alone. But when possible, open up with your children and let them know that you struggle too. This will hopefully let them see you are human too, and together, you can work through life’s stresses.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/shironosov

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upset teen looking at her mom, tension between you and your children

2. Insist on Respectful Behavior

Even though tension is a normal part of family life, parents are obligated to insist on respectful behavior. This means giving our kids the tools to deal with their emotions properly. Instead of saying, “You cannot be angry,” we can explain that getting angry is a real emotion that everyone deals with. We can then let them know it’s how they deal with it that matters most. Offer suggestions to help your child deal with tension, such as:

Praying and asking God for help

Going outside in the fresh air for a few minutes


Journaling about their feelings

Calling a trusted family mentor

Kids ought to be allowed to display authentic emotion, without being disrespectful. Make it a goal to help your children cope with their emotions in both Spiritual and practical ways. This will help them learn to diffuse tension on their own, thus eliminating unnecessary tensions within the home.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images

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granddad talking to his grandson over a meal, tension betwen you and your children

3. Find Better Ways to Communicate

My kids always dreaded it when we said, “We need to have a family meeting ASAP.” To them, it equated to lectures, rules, and reminders of how they’d messed up. It took my husband and I a long time to approach things differently. Once we started communicating with our kids, instead of communicating at them, things began to change for the better.

If you’d like to reduce tension and open up the lines of communication with your children, here are a few ideas to consider:

Ask your children what changes you can make as the parent.

Instead of lecturing your child on how they can improve their behavior, try asking them if there’s anything you can do differently. You might be surprised at their answer! This isn’t a way of diverting the problem, but rather an attempt to show your children that you are willing to make necessary changes as well. For example: Let’s say your child feels frustrated that you’re always on their case about keeping things clean. You can change how you enforce family chores by making a simple chore chart. Then, instead of yelling at them to clean their rooms, you can refer to the chart in a calm, controlled manner. Kids aren’t used to being asked how parents can do things differently, so this idea might be just the thing you need to reduce tension.

Ask them how they handle tension with their friends.

Most kids love to talk about their friends. By asking them how they handle relationship conflict with their buddies, it might give you some insight as to how they might respond to you. For example: If their friend constantly acts loud and annoying, ask them how they plan to handle it. Their answer might provide a creative way of dealing with the tension in your own household—according to their ideas, not yours.

Ask their opinion.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at some of the mature responses I’ve received from my son when I genuinely ask his opinion about something. What surprises me most is that he often answers with insightful opinions that open up the lines of communication between us. If you’re struggling to ease the tension with your children, try asking their opinion about an issue. For example: If there’s a lot of tension regarding church attendance, ask your son or daughter their opinion on the importance of going to church. This might lead to an in-depth discussion and even breakthrough on the subject.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images

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daughter looking annoyed at mom talking to her, tension between you and your children

4. Give Them Space

Many tensions can be eliminated simply by offering a bit of time and space. Especially if the tension is a reactive response to a particular situation, it might be best to distance yourself for a time and allow your children to cool off.

Again, this doesn’t excuse disrespectful behavior. In fact, it would be wise to encourage your children to tell you when they need space, instead of angrily pushing you away. Talk about the ways they can let you know they need to be alone for awhile—ways that don’t include shouts of “Leave me alone!”

Even Jesus took time alone to pray. We can follow His example by allowing our children some time and space as well.

After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.” (Matthew 14:23)

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Prostock-Studio

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family gathering group hug, tension between you and your children

5. Create an Environment of Peace 

I’ve always tried to make my home a haven—a place where my husband looks forward to coming home at the end of the day—and a place where my kids feel safe and loved. While I’ve often failed at my attempts, I continue to create an environment of peace as often as I can.

Doing a quick clean up before dinner, lighting a candle, and turning on soft music are a few practical ways to make your home a peaceful place. Praying together as a family, reading passages from the Scriptures, and affirming each other’s strengths, are spiritual and emotional ways to connect. By making your home a calm place of harmony and rest, tension won’t stand a chance.

While we cannot always prevent tension in our homes, we can address it sooner rather than later, insist on respectful behavior, and give our children a little space when needed. Along with creating a peaceful environment for our families to enjoy, we’ll be proactive in dealing with tensions that are sure to arise.

For more about dealing with family tension, check out these posts:

6 Ways to Unlock Drama-Free Parenting

Prayers for Family - For Protection, Strength, and Unity Bond

Photo Credit: © Pexels/August de Richelieu

Jennifer WaddleJennifer Waddle is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayerand is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesnt Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth. 

Originally published Saturday, 19 June 2021.