by Sue Dockerill
What happens in the home… stays in the heart forever.
Do you find yourself rescuing, persecuting, and then feeling like a victim? This could be the beginning of codependent parenting.
Instead of taking sides when kids fight, treat them the same.
Talk to both kids using a calm nonjudgmental voice. Fire yourself from being the judge the jury or the referee.
Instead act surprised while noticing the fact.
“Something happened! You both look angry. Your arm is on your brother and your brother is crying."
Remember there is no excuse for abuse. Sometimes when we want something we have to let it go and think our way into a powerful place.
"You can work this out peacefully now or you can take some chill time to make yourself feel better. What do you choose? I think going apart is a good idea. I know the two of you can figure this out. If you need my help I’ll be in the Kitchen."
Fighting will diminish significantly when you stop taking sides.
When your kids are ready to solve the problem, have one child listen and the other share how they feel by answering the following 3 questions. (repeat with each child)
1. What do you want?
Have the listener repeat what they heard before sharing what they want. Then have the other child recreate before going on to the next question.
2. How do you feel?
3. What will you do?
(If you post these questions somewhere you can have a negotiating place in your home for peace talks.) You may want to make a poster with these three powerful questions for resolving conflict..
Remember the person listening is in charge of repeating what he/she heard. Then they check in and ask "Do I understand you?" They wait to take their turn only after they recreate the feelings of their brother or sister. Remember to model this as parents with how you communicate. As stated in the old adage, monkey see monkey do.
In a very short time you can give them the choice to sit down and have a peace talk with your help,or on their own.
Eventually you can just mention having a peace talk, give them the option of playing a game together, or going for a bike ride. See how fast they bolt out the door to have fun.
I promise that if you do this within a week your sibling rivalry will be decreased by 75% Remember to look for improvements, not perfection, and enjoy the journey.
How many of you want your children to be good negotiators and have strong healthy relationships?
Remember conflict is a teachable moment and what you resist persists. Welcome fighting; it's the perfect opportunity to teach communication skills.
When children feel understood. They will behave better. Take time to really listen and recreate their feelings.
Tune in to my next blog on How to listen so your kids will talk.
Susan Dockerill has ten years of teaching children in public, private, and military schools at home and abroad, plus 17 years teaching and mediating with parents and teachers. Susan has the expertise to speak frankly about marriage, divorce, children, and being responsible for living the life of your dreams.
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DCF Approved Family Stabilization class, "A Child's Life Depends on Peaceful Resolutions", Instructor Sue Dockerill Serving Families since 1991.
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