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.
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.