Teaching Your Child To Resolve Conflict
"Mum, Fred did x", "Mum, Sarah did y".
Sound familiar? You, I'm afraid to say, have created this scenario by being the referee, they are looking to you for resolution. The objective here is to hand the responsibility back to your children.
You do this by NEVER judging or taking sides.
You do this by NOT resolving their conflicts.
So what do you do?
It may feel counter-intuitive, even uncomfortable, there may be a bit of tugging or shouting. Trust that they are learning and will come to you if needed (unless you are concerned one will get hurt).
If they come to you model calmness in the midst of chaos. Moving slowly, taking a deep breath. I like to sit on the floor at eye level to build connection and to emphasise that I am there as a facilitator, not an overpowering authority.
BECOME THE SPORTSCASTER
Instead of being the referee be the sportscaster, simply state what you observe including any needs* and feelings. Sportscasting is a phrase coined by the late Magda Gerber.
So for example - "Fred are you upset because you want the train back?" "Sarah are you upset because you want to play with the train?" Then simply ask "What can you do?". Usually one of the children will hand it back to the other nonchalantly. If not wait and observe calmly.
*(For those more fluent in NVC I have used needs and strategies intermittently in this article to get the main ethos across)
If it is not resolved you could support the resolution by asking guiding questions such as:- "Fred, is it that you want to know you are going to get the train back at the end?" or "Fred, is it that you want Sarah to ask before taking your toy?" "Sarah, is it that you want to play with the train now or do you just want to play with something with wheels?" then "What can you do"? Notice here that nobody is wronged or judged. You are sticking to the facts of the situation and you are supporting them to resolve the issue. I have witnessed 3-4-year-olds coming up with solutions again and again. So again, wait and observe calmly.
If it gets to the point that my son and his playdate are getting continually frustrated with each other then I try to pick that up before a conflict arises and suggest a walk outside or a meditation. I once played our Relax Kids meditation CD at that point in a playdate, before it they were at loggerheads and afterwards they were literally in a lovely cuddle puddle! Any mindfulness techniques - such as breathing, visualisations, tuning into each of the senses, will help diffuse any tension.
Please ask me any questions on this and please let me know how you get on.
Remember you are teaching them a skill that will support them for life. I feel so passionate about the bigger picture of this work, can you imagine a world where we are all experienced at non-violent conflict resolution?
NUGGETS OF WISDOM
Tribal Hearts Festival, like many, have had to cancel their lovely event but have created an online hub and...
Here are some wise words from Jade Beall (JadeBeall.com) an award-winning photographer, author of "The Bodies of Mothers". "How is it, that over many generations now so many of us have agreed to believe that our bodies are something shameful, unworthy, imperfect? In...
I like to think of anger as a climb with a peak. The trick is to catch it on the way up because when you reach near the peak the pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain for reasoning and empathy) is no longer engaged and you are in the fight/flight brain. So here is...