Managing Conflict through the Circuit Breaker Period (and Beyond)

Family Group

Managing Conflict through the Circuit Breaker Period (and Beyond)

As we spend more time with our loved ones at home this season managing different work-from-home (WFH) and home-based learning (HBL) schedules, some of us may find ourselves in situations where tensions run high. For instance, you may face conflicting work schedules with your spouse resulting in no one supervising the child or your child not following instructions, to name a few.

The situation at home may seem chaotic and relationships may seem like they are on the brink of falling apart. However, peace can be restored and relationships can be strengthened with the right strategy. Here are three simple Do’s and Don’ts that can help you navigate conflicts at home.

Don’t react but learn to respond

Acknowledge your feelings, i.e. all those “at the moment” feelings which you are facing in your WFH environment. Clinical studies have shown that our emotional brain (the limbic system, the amygdala) needs to be addressed first before our logical brain (prefrontal cortex) can function – this is how our brain functions, physiologically and psychologically.

This means you should learn to name the feelings that you may be experiencing at the moment. For example, is what you’re feeling frustration? Anger? Helplessness? Anxiety? A sense of loss or being trapped? Being misunderstood? Being taken advantage of? Or being unsupported? Once you are able to name your feelings with words, your brain will help to move your “at the moment” experiences from the subconscious reactive state to the conscious responsive state. At this juncture, your logical brain can better take control instead of letting your emotional brain take the driving seat of the situation – which may result in shouting and the exchange of hurtful words.

Don’t reason when emotionally flooded but be self-aware

Being emotionally flooded often means your blood pressure and heart rate are rising, you speak faster and louder than usual, you may be physically pacing around in the house, you can feel your body temperature rising, and you’re tensing up. It isn’t the best time to express yourself when you are overwhelmed with emotions. Take a few moments to calm down. Here’s what you can do:

  • Naming your emotions and feelings is the first step, next you must do something to calm yourself down or sooth your emotional brain.
  • Take a few moments to calm down. Call for a time-out when you are emotionally flooded so that you can use the time out to calm down and settle your emotions. A time-out of 20 to 60 minutes is usually sufficient to help a person calm down. Some ways to calm down and regulate your emotions are to go to a quiet place to be on your own, listen to soothing music, or go for a jog. The time-out shouldn’t be used to think of ways to get back at your spouse or plan an argument to “win” your spouse.
  • It would be helpful to process your thoughts that gave rise to the array of emotions that you just experienced. This step may take a day or even a few days. The main purpose of this process is to help you figure out:
    • what your need is
    • who is responsible for this need
    • what you can do meet this need
    • how your spouse can help you to succeed


Don't blame but state your needs

The one important question you must ask yourself is this: What can you do the next time when something similar takes place again? Hopefully, this will help to reduce the intensity of the disagreement and the unnecessary and unhelpful reactions everytime a similar situation repeats itself. Over time, you will be able to manage it better. Your family members will also better know your needs and take the appropriate steps to help you succeed.

As we stay home more during this Circuit Breaker period, let’s take intentional steps to navigate the challenges and strengthen our family ties!

Feeling overwhelmed with all that is going on? TOUCH Family Life is here to help. Contact us at 6709 8400 or email [email protected] if you have any parenting related enquiries, or [email protected] to find out about our counselling services.

TOUCH Integrated Family Group (TIFG) is TOUCH’s newest service group, set up in January 2020. TIFG focuses on Family Resources to help families cope with different stressors along their life course, transition of roles in Family Transitions, Relationships & Growth, and building Family Resilience. The group is made up of services such as ‘TOUCH Children & Youth’, ‘TOUCH Family Life’ and ‘TOUCH Family Enablement’. 

With TOUCH’s multi-service experience in meeting the needs of disadvantaged children, youth-at-risk and vulnerable families since 1992, TIFG aims to equip families with resources and enable them to build resilience. This is done through an integrated suite of services to support the family as a unit, with emphasis on education, intervention and advocacy.