As a teacher, I worked with children who had a variety of behavior disorders, so I got a lot of training in crisis intervention—specifically nonviolent crisis intervention. What we observed in the schools also played out in my students’ homes. There was a direct correlation between frustration, inconsistency, lack of behavior management skills, exhaustion, stress, and the onset of violence. This was true with students and teachers, with parents and children, and also between parents.
In other words, violence in any setting is an indication that the people involved have exhausted the other alternatives or have elected not to consider them. Some are uninformed about other alternatives or are ill-equipped to utilize them. Violence in the home is never acceptable. It is always avoidable, and it is the responsibility of the parents to make sure a family does not go down that route. Here are 7 steps to end family violence.
1. Make an agreement.
2. Cultivate the right attitudes.Develop and practice a vocabulary of grace using words of respect and encouragement.
Cultivate attitudes and behaviors that are incompatible with violence. Develop and practice a vocabulary of grace using words of respect and encouragement. The apostle Paul gave the following advice: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
3. Address the problems immediately.
If there is a history of violence in your home, initiate family counseling immediately. Violence is serious. It’s abusive, it’s a relationship killer, and it hurts children for life. You need to understand the patterns that lead to violence, and this usually requires professional guidance.
4. Identify the starters.
Identify factors that tend to escalate tense situations. Observe yourself, take notes, and pay attention. If you find that you are more prone to losing control when you are already angry, tired, paying bills, or watching football, walk away.
5. Stop drinking too much.
6. Give physical space.
Never step into the personal space of a family member who is out of control emotionally. Posture, personal space, backing someone into a corner and not leaving an exit, putting a finger in your teenage son’s face or prodding his chest with it… All these behaviors are clinically proven to provoke a violent response.
7. Intervene physically only if necessary.
Only intervene physically to protect your child or yourself from injury. And then, only utilize safe techniques you have researched and feel comfortable using. Sometimes a parent has no choice but to hold an out-of-control child. If this is part of your pattern, make sure you know how to do it safely.
Sound off: What more can we do to move away from family violence?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What scares you the most at home?”