CONFLICT RESOLUTION SKILLS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN
Conflicts between parents and children are part of life. However, what makes the difference is the way we handle those conflicts. Oftentimes, parents will either adopt an authoritarian posture in which they expect their child to obey, or in other cases, parents give up their parental authority and let their child get what she wants. Neither of these scenarios is productive in the long term. A third alternative focuses on the strategies where children and parents come up together with solutions that are satisfying for everyone.
Here are a few tips on how to deal with conflicts so that everyone wins:
1. Identifying and defining the problem. Show your child that you understand her problem or explain to her what your problem is. Tell her you want to find a satisfying solution for both of you.
2. Listing all possible solutions. Let your child list her ideas first, then suggest yours. If your child does not come up with ideas, encourage her by asking guiding questions. If the conflict involves multiple children, make sure everyone participates in the brainstorming process.
3. Evaluating the proposed solutions. Sort out all solutions and keep only the ones that are respectful, reasonable, and feasible for everyone.
4. Choosing the best solution for everyone. Make sure your child understands fully the nuts and bolts of the solution. You may decide to implement the solution for a short period of time and gauge if it works for everyone.
5. Defining how to implement the solution. Some solutions require that its modalities be discussed. You may need to discuss when to start, how many times a week, what needs to be bought,…
6. Evaluating the solution and modifying it if necessary. At some point, the question “Are we satisfied with the solution?” needs to be addressed. If the answer is no, then try to understand why it does not work and then start a new discussion between you and your child to find out a new solution.
The collaborative approach in handling conflicts are beneficial on many aspects. First, it shows your child you value her input and care about what she thinks. Second, it boosts your child’s self-esteem when she notices her solution works for everyone. Finally, it reinforces the emotional connection you have been developing with your child over the years.
FOSTERING YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM
Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself, both inside and out. For your child, it does impact the relationships with her parents, peers, as well as her academic performances. This is why it is essential to help her develop a strong self-esteem. As a parent, you have a major role in fostering this concept since your words and your actions have the power to increase or decrease your child’s self-esteem.
5 keys to foster a strong self-esteem:
1. Love your child unconditionally and accept her exactly the way she is. That means your child does not have to be, or do anything in particular to earn your love. Your child will then feel valued for who she truly is.
2. Notice her progress and efforts by praising and encouraging her. Your child’s good behavior and achievements will get reinforced. Show her how proud you are of her, whether she was successful or not. As a result, she will start being proud of her own accomplishments.
3. Respect your child. By showing your child that you care about her feelings and well-being, it will teach her how to respect herself and others as well. When you do not agree with her, let her know by explaining your reasons and by using “I statements”. For example, instead of saying “Why did you hit your brother?”, try “I don’t agree when you hit your brother as it hurts him. I think you are probably angry with him. How could you let him know that you are angry with him?”
4.Teach your child that making mistakes is perfectly normal as we all learn from our mistakes. Be a role model for your child and do not be afraid to admit your own mistakes/failures and what you learn from them. Learning new skills takes time and practice, and no one can master everything.
5. Let her make choices. Offering choices to your child helps her learn that she has some control over her life. Over time, your child gains self-confidence and learns how to be responsible. Although the decisions are small for your child, it can help her discover what she enjoys and what she dislikes.
Be careful about these behaviors that foster low self-esteem:
-belittling your child, especially in presence of others.
-humiliating or punishing your child when she does not succeed.
-expecting your child to be perfect
-ignoring your child’s words and actions
When your child has high self-esteem, she is happy, makes friends easily, enjoys social activities, takes calculated risks, plays on her own and with friends, is creative, and is able to follow rules more easily.
5 WAYS TO PROMOTE YOUR CHILD’S AUTONOMY
Since autonomy is a process that takes time, patience, and practice, your child will not become autonomous by herself. This learning is essential as it leads to self-determination and independence. As a parent, it is your role to provide opportunities to your child so that she can make choices and take on responsibility from a very young age.
Here are 5 ways to encourage your child to develop autonomy:
1. Allow your child to make choices. When you offer more choices to your child, she feels she has more control over some aspects of her life in a world where adults make all the decisions. She feels respected and learns to develop important decision making skills.
2. Let your child do it. When tasks are challenging or take time, you may over-supervise or do it yourself so that it goes faster and/or the task is better accomplished. It is hard to watch your child struggle, but it is where the growth takes place. Every time your child does something on her own, it helps build her self-confidence.
3. Encourage her ideas. Support your child’s creativity by letting her to take initiatives, taking small risks, trying new things, or changing strategies. You are her guide to success. Failures should be perceived as life lessons or as new challenges to overcome.
4. Let your child solve her problems. Your child faces a variety of problems every day. Problems ranging from academic difficulties, peer issues, problems on the sports fields, difficulty completing a task, or even deciding what outfit to wear can benefit from a formal solving process. When your child learns problem-solving skills she develops autonomy and gains confidence in her ability to make good decisions for herself.
5. Praise your child and do not take away her hope. If your child is determined to try out for something you are not quite sure she can do on her own, give her the opportunity to go through the process and be supportive of her. I f your child succeeds, praise her. If she does not, she will learn from her experience and you will be right there by her side.
Once a child has a sense of autonomy, she respects her parents’ boundaries. She knows she is free to explore the safe world set up for her and will start making healthy choices. The promotion of autonomy helps to develop the life skills necessary when parents are no longer around.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.