3 TIPS ON HOW TO COMMUNICATE DURING CONFLICTS
Having conflicts and disagreements are part of life even if none of us likes it. Knowing how to deal with them effectively reduces stress and anxiety and increases potential for personal and relationship growth. As a parent, you want to be a role model and show your child how to handle conflicts in a constructive way.
So, here are a few suggestions about how to communicate during conflicts in a healthy way.
1. Taking turns to listen and speak. We often know what we want to say in the heat of a conversation. But, do we know how to listen to our child, to give her an opportunity to voice her concerns/worries/requests so that she can express her point of view as well?
You and your child should take turns in speaking and listening so that everyone gets a chance to express their feelings and thoughts. The goal is not to solve the problem, but rather have a safe and meaningful discussion in which you and your child have an opportunity to understand each other’s perspective.
2. Using “I” messages. In general, it is good procedure to use “I” messages when expressing ourselves. It becomes crucial when a conflict arises. One benefit of “I” messages is to avoid accusing and blaming your child for behaving the way he/she did. Instead, it puts the focus on how you feel. For instance, instead of saying “You never put your toys away like you are supposed to.”, try something like “I feel frustrated when your toys are not put away.” In the last scenario, your child is much less likely to rebel or resist what you expect from them. Also, it does feel less threatening than accusing or blaming. Finally, “I” messages show your child how to take responsibility for their own actions as you do it yourself when expressing your own feelings.
3. Working collaboratively. When you work together with your child, issues can be solved in mutually satisfactory and realistic ways for both parties. First, as stated above, use empathy to gather information from your child to understand his/her perspective. Second, you, as a parent, define the issue by communicating your own perspective. Finally, invite your child to brainstorm solutions with you. The solution should address each other’s concerns. For each solution, ask yourself, “Is it safe? How might people feel about it? Is it fair? Will it work?” Be flexible, if one solution does not work, then you and your child should try an alternative one.
Dealing with conflicts can take varying amounts of mental, emotional, and physical energy. However, learning and implementing these few tips can increase positive interactions between you and your child.
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.