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Syndicated column from The Parent
[OCT. 19, 2005]
Q: Our two kids fight all the time. I'm afraid
that one day one of them is really going to hurt the other. We've
always been clear that violent behavior is not acceptable, but
sometimes these minor disagreements escalate into full-blown fights.
Where do we go from here?
Whether it's a fight with a sibling, a friend, a run-in with a
teacher or an argument with parents
-- all children experience conflict in their everyday lives. From
minor misunderstandings to major disagreements, even adults don't
always see eye-to-eye.
Siblings often tease each other. They
accuse each other of doing things they didn't do. They bicker about
which TV show to watch. Conflict can produce stress, create tension
in families, and disrupt school and learning. But it doesn't have
to. You can teach your children to manage conflict. They can learn
to express their feelings in ways that lead to better decisions.
Continue to be firm. Don't overlook or excuse your children's
fighting. Teach them that they have choices in dealing with
conflict. Talk about how to resolve conflicts peacefully. Here are
some ideas that focus on solutions instead of blame:
Start by trying to find
something, no matter how small, that they can agree on.
Encourage your children to
find a way to say they're sorry. Even something like, "I'm
sorry we can't agree on this," is an opening for reaching
Suggest that they talk softly.
There's something about speaking softly that lowers the
level of anger.
Have them try "splitting the
difference" -- seeking a middle-ground solution that
partially satisfies each one. It's good for fast decision-making
on minor disagreements.
[to top of second column in this article]
For five minutes
have the two fighters switch roles. Each has to present the other
person's point of view as convincingly as possible. Only one person
can talk at a time. And the only thing they're allowed to do is
present the other person's argument. Role-playing helps each side
understand the other's argument. And they're likely to come up with
a compromise they both like. Odds are they'll soon start laughing
and make up!
Conflicts are a normal part of life. Help your children discuss
their problems, but explain that you won't resolve their conflicts
for them. As you encourage the skills and attitudes they need to
resolve their conflicts, you will also be teaching your children to
reach their goals.
For more information about helping
children learn or to submit your own question, go to
http://advisor.parent-institute.com. All questions will receive
a prompt answer by e-mail.
Copyright © 2005, The Parent
"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful
Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.