As a parent, a fight with your child can leave you blaming yourself for being the worst. You are not. All parents have had to resolve conflict with their children. Whether its something silly like a fight over bedtime or a major fight with your teenage child, Daniel L Shapiro Ph.D. gives us four powerful keys to consider while resolving conflict with kids
1. Don’t let it make your world spin:
Conflict with kids can make a parent become emotionally consumed to the point that nothing else matters. The tension might make some parents feel like the world is spinning out of control. Shapiro calls this feeling ‘vertigo’. Its like whenever you manage to get things in order, your child does something worse, making everything become an emotional roller-coaster.
To free yourself from vertigo, start by avoiding it. Before things escalate ask yourself: “Do I really want to get caught up in this conflict?” Chances are, your answer will be a “No”. Take a deep breath and give yourself time to regain perspective. Ask yourself, an hour from that time, will getting so worked up over a kids bedtime be worth it? Again chanced are: your answer will be a “No”.
2. Put yourself in your child’s shoes
Much as we are parents and are older, we don’t necessarily have all the right answers. Much as we are meant to offer guidance, you may find that there is some validity to their perspective especially in arguments. Appreciate the child’s concerns. Take time to ask, listen and understand what may have sparked a particular behavior or reaction.
When your child starts shouting claiming that you are unfairly, instead of defending your actions, find out why he or she thinks so. It could be jealousy over how lenient you are on a sibling or just seeking your attention.
3. Give your child some independence.
Being a child can be so disempowering especially being told what and when to do everything. But what most kids want to say is “I did it myself”. A little autonomy would be nice, letting the child make some little decisions like what dessert they want, what clothes they want to wear. You might be shocked how much a little freedom can do in terms of reducing bad behavior.
When your child wants more play time, don’t out rightly say “No”. Try asking them why instead. Also give them options like “If you stay up today, you have to go earlier tomorrow”.
4. Resist repetitive resolution styles.
As a parent, you may find your child is repeating some behavior and your pattern of conflict resolution is the same every time. It then reaches a point where your child becomes somewhat immune to it. They ignore the reprimands.
You need to identify such patterns of conflict in order to avoid repetitive compulsion. If it isn’t working, deviate from the normal process. To curb this, you may be forced to change your own reactionary methods.You might want to ask your child why (s)he does what they do or what (s)he thinks is the best way to handle the situation. This will create dialogue, hence a better understanding of your child.
Children have a way of pushing the wrong buttons as a way of testing their parents patience. Try being on top of such patterns of conflict and make a conscious effort to adjust. Once you manage to create dialogue, the conflicts will become more manageable and less confrontational.