Conflict with family

Everyone has family conflict. Occasional tension or arguments are a normal part of family life. Whether it’s with your parents or siblings, there are things you can do to stop conflict from getting worse. However, if you feel unsafe or can’t resolve it on your own, you should get help.

This can help if:

  • you’re fighting with your parents/guardian/brother/sister

  • you want some tips on how to talk to your family

  • you want to know how to ease the tension with a family member.

Daughter with back to mother and arms crossed in kitchen

Conflict with parents and guardians

Common reasons for arguing with your parents, guardians or carers are:

  • your opinions and values are different from theirs

  • poor communication: you misunderstand each other and jump to conclusions

  • you want more independence than they're willing to give you

  • you feel like you’re being treated like a kid

  • they don’t respect your privacy

  • massive changes are happening in the family: separation, divorce, new baby, moving

  • there’s pressure or expectations regarding your friends, job, exams, chores, even your personal style.

Conflict with brothers and sisters

Yep, your annoying bro or sis knows exactly which buttons to push to make you see red. Things that can make these conflicts harder to deal with are:

  • differences in age

  • jealousy, or feeling like you're not good enough

  • lack of space

  • step-brothers, step-sisters or step-families

  • competitiveness over study, sport or other achievements.

How to deal with conflict

There are different ways of dealing with family conflict. Below are some things you can do. Even if they just give you some time to think about what to do next, that’s a start.

Don't sweat the small stuff

If it's something small, like teasing, try not to get wound up. Avoid that family member if you can.

Count to 10

It might sound stupid but walking away and counting to ten can be a good way to avoid saying something you’ll regret later. It also gives you time to come back with a better response.

Get some space

While not solving the problem, it can be good to get some head space either with friends or by yourself. Try exercising or chilling out.

Talk it over with someone else

Getting a different perspective can help you understand why you have a conflict. It might also help you identify some useful strategies for resolving or handling it.

Tips for talking it out

If you’re fighting with your parents, you might try having a calm conversation with them about what’s going on. They’ll probably be impressed to see you take such a mature approach to the problem, especially if you initiate it. Even with annoying siblings, clear and calm communication will almost always be the best way to sort things out and come to an arrangement that works for all of you.

  • Pick a time when no one is angry, upset, stressed or tired.

  • Choose a place where you can sit and talk without being interrupted.

  • Be willing to compromise, and come up with options you're willing to accept.

  • Avoid being sarcastic or verbally attacking the other person.

  • Be honest. If something really upsets you, let the other person know.

  • Listen to what the other person has to say, and accept that their point of view might be just as valid as yours. (This is easier said than done, but it’s well worth it!)

  • Once you’ve settled on something you can agree to, stick to it – maybe for a set period of time.

  • If talking feels impossible, try writing an email or a letter, explaining how you feel.

If you can’t reach a compromise, you might have to 'agree to disagree'. Remember that you can have your own opinions, based on your personal experience, beliefs and values, and you don’t always have to agree with your family.

If you don’t feel safe

If you feel like you’re in danger, go to our urgent help page. You don’t have to solve this problem on your own. There are a number of services that can talk you through the best approach to your situation and help you work out a solution.

What can I do now?

  • Talk to your parents/guardian. They might not realise how seriously you view the problem.

  • If things aren’t getting better, contact a helpline for support.