Let me begin by saying that I am NOT the master of conflict resolution. I am the understudy or even the understudy’s understudy, what’s that gal called? Well, that’s me.
I’m a firm believer that you should surround yourself with THE BEST people. Preferably people who are better than you, at least in areas that you highly value. Meet my friend Sarah who is more like a sister, or at least how I imagine a sister to be since I only have brothers.
Sarah is pretty much the best mom that I know (besides my own, she’s the jam and I’m not just saying that because she will read this. Love you Mom). Sarah is deeply thoughtful in all areas of her life and this translates beautifully and effectively into her parenting. She moved to Colorado about 4 years ago. I only see her 1-2 times a year now but before the move, we saw each other often. Every time we were together, I learned something about how to be a better parent just from watching her. Side note: she’s not one of those preachy parents that goes around proselytizing about their exceptional parenting gifts – usually these people are full of you know what.
Anyway, I got to spend the day with her yesterday and learned a few good tips about conflict resolution that would be selfish to keep to myself.
I am often overwhelmed with how to best meet all of my kids needs. The baby is crying while I’m changing his massive poopy diaper, he’s hungry and tired and everything else. Meanwhile, my toddler is hanging onto my legs asking the same question over and over. “Mommy, what time is it?” (She has no idea about time which makes this question extra ridiculous). The boys (8 and 6yo) are fighting. One is crying because the other one stole his sock (or insert other extremely unimportant item). The one whose sock was stolen punches his bro in the stomach and then the thief retaliates with a body slam . . . and on and on and on. You get the point.
What do I do?
Well, I usually don’t handle all of this well. I take care of the baby’s needs while answering my toddler a couple of times. Then I loose it and tell her to go away, I can’t answer that question any more. I yell to the boys to stop fighting or else big trouble is coming their way. They continue to follow me around complaining about the undeserved harm that has been done to them. They do this until I yell some more and take away everything fun. Then I finally get the baby fed and off to bed and apologize to Elle and forget what was even going on with the boys in the first place.
But yesterday I witnessed a little bit of parenting magic that I am going to be using, even among the chaos.
Here’s what happened.
Fleet (8yo) came to me complaining that T (friend’s child) called him a sucker and a big fat jerk. I tried to brush past this the first time but it happened again so we had to address it. Fleet is very sensitive and tends to only see his side of the story.
My friend called both kids in and the conversation when something like this:
Mom: Fleet, what is upsetting you?
Fleet: T called me a sucker and a big fat jerk. But I didn’t do anything.
Mom: Ok, T, what is upsetting you?
T: Fleet kept pausing the movie we were watching for no reason and that was making me mad.
Fleet: It was an accident. (As his mother, I’m not sure I believe this!)
Mom: T, can you suggest a solution?
T: Yes, no one should be allowed to hold the remote so the movie doesn’t get paused.
Mom: Fleet, is that acceptable to you?
Duh, right? Everyone was heard. The problem was solved.
It was obvious that her kids were used to this type of conflict resolution and were able to quickly work through this dialogue. It is important for each person to be heard so that kids start to understand that there are always two sides to a story. Asking them for suggestions on how to resolve the conflict is a crucial part of the equation. These skills will serve them well throughout their entire lives. Ideally, once kids get used to solving problems this way, they will be able to resolve independently. The whole thing took less than 5 minutes and was so satisfying. I will be using this. Surprisingly, I’ve been waiting to use it all day but for some reason, mine have been getting along fairly well today.
If you have any tips to share, post them below!
I used to do more posts with product recommendations – Would you guys like to see more of that again? I’ve ordered a couple of things recently that I really love- bathing suits and bra. I’m hoping to determine interest before sharing.