Tips on Toning Down Aggressive Households


Portrait Of Happy FamilySome households are noisy and full of roughhousing. Others are quiet and easy going. If the first household has been aggressive for a long time it wears on everyone in the family and emotional temperatures flare.

Individuals lose sight of how to regulate their emotions to a talking level even though outside the house they may know how to keep in control. The interactions in the home seem to trigger heightened anger that is disruptive and everyone wants to change it including parents and children but they have lost their way.

Tips for Parents on How To Control Tempers in the House:

1. Make a list of triggers.

If it is a two-parent household make a list of triggers that stir up angry feelings for everyone in the family, so you are ready to intercede early on. If it’s a one parent household, do this on your own or maybe with a very trusted friend.

2 . Establish the parent-child hierarchy.

You need to establish that you are calmly in charge so the generational boundary is clear. Make a list of what are your triggers as well, so that you can start responding without yelling or punishing, but calmly asserting your benevolent authority.

3. Have a family meeting.

Tell the children that the family has become too aggressive and you are all going to start to work together not against each other. Tell them everyone has a say until they are finished. No interruptions or raised voices or you will stop and resume another time.

Introduce the word collaboration. Explain that the reason for the list is to remind each other not to trigger each other. If someone does by mistake, the triggered person tells them to stop and they must.

Tell them the list you have made for them (not for yourself to maintain the generational boundary) and ask them if they want to add any items. Remind them of the turn-taking rule. If someone wants to take something off the list that pertains to them, that’s their privilege. Remind them the reason for the list is because you want everyone to learn what leads to aggressive words and actions.

At another time if you want private conversations with each child about how they trigger you, do so without the others in ear shot. Speak in a non-blaming way. Tell your child you are sharing your feelings and trusting your child with them. This will maintain your relationships with each child.

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Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst and author who does psychotherapy with infants and parents, children, adolescents, and adults. Dr. Hollman’s new book: Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and She writes about infant, child and adolescent development, mental health, Parental Intelligence, and a broad range of parenting topics.


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