Ideally, you can find it within yourself to use positive thinking to combat such negative emotions and make room for positive ones. For example, feeling things like empathy, compassion, respect, and forgiveness toward your partner during couple conflict will not only help diffuse heated situations but show your children that conflict can be worked through and they can trust that you will try your best to do so. However, this is harder said than done. And while negative emotions are an inevitable part of family life when dealing with couple conflict and parenting, your ability to regulate your negative emotions will go a long way in protecting your children from the negative impact of your couple conflict.
One way to do this is by practicing ways to soothe yourself during heated moments. For example, you may need to engage some positive or calming self-talk (e.g., “This isn’t worth getting so upset about. Especially in front of the children.”). You may also need to take a time-out during heated moments (e.g., “I want to have this discussion but I need to walk away and calm down first. Let’s talk about this later.”) It may also help to engage deep breathing and try to slow down discussions that are happening too rapidly or appear to be at risk for escalating. Finally, you can regulate your emotions by paying attention to the thoughts running through your head and attempt to challenge the negative or unproductive ones. (More on this in the next session.)
Now, move on to an exercise designed to make you more aware of the negative emotions that arise when you face a difficult situation at home.