Negotiating with your kids is a whole new ball game and an emotionally charged one at that. No matter how sensible and calm you intend to be, kids usually don’t possess that disposition, particularly during conflicts. So when faced with tantrums, bawling, backtalk, and recriminations, it’s hard to hold on to your composure, especially when you’re exhausted. Which in turn escalates a small issue into a full-scale conflict.
There is usually no middle ground, you either lay down the law that elicits resentment or give in, which makes you wonder if you’re spoiling them.
A conflict with your children may seem like an endless loop; however, there are better ways to cope with them. And it’s never too early to help foster your child’s negotiation skills, which in turn is going to help them resolve any issue they come across on their own.
1. Get Out of the Unending Loop
At times stress and exhaustion block rational reasoning and when faced with the slightest flare-up, you lose your cool. That further kindles the fire in your kid. When situations like this arise, you need to pause and remind yourself that if you lose it, things will escalate and strain your relationship.
Take deep breaths and ask yourself if it’s worth getting worked up over this situation? The answer is most likely no.
2. The Negotiation Begins at Home
After you get a hold of your emotions, help them get theirs in check. Ask them to pause and take deep breaths. Ask them, what they are so upset over. Always set your judgment aside and avoid commenting negatively on the situation.
Look at the situation from your child’s eyes and communicate that you understand how they’re feeling. For example, “If I were you, I wouldn’t want to go to bed early.”
Then reason with them, “However, I’ll be so sleepy in the morning and will have trouble waking up for school tomorrow.” Ask them for their input, what they would suggest resolving the situation. Afterward, input your reasoning in the proposed solution and try to reach a compromise.
Consider resolving every conflict where you both have to give something, and if one party is losing, make sure they win the next time. This way, children learn how to approach a conflict with fairness.
3. Show and Teach Empathy
Expressing empathy doesn’t have to be confined to troubling times. Show empathy whenever you can, sometimes your children just need you to lend a listening ear and understand how they’re feeling, not attempt to solve a problem for them.
Children are usually overwhelmed with intense emotions; a small issue could be a big deal to them. So whenever they come to you crying, get down to their eye level and show them that they can always come to you for anything, ”I can see you’re very upset and annoyed. What happened to make you feel like that?”
Also, help them learn to empathize with other people as well, “So was your friend upset too? What you said must have hurt them too?”
4. Foster Fairness
Encourage your child to be always fair in their conduct. While the concepts of fairness and empathy may be too complex for them to grasp and act on, children learn with simple demonstrations, encouragements, and seeing you as their role model.
For example, your family is in the habit of enjoying a movie night every other day, thanks to Spectrum’s availability, you have access to every known movie and TV show. Now your child is bent on watching a movie that you all watched together the last time. You could go about it a little like this: “It’s only fair that I get my turn today since we went with your choice the last time. It’s not fun to take turns all the time. “
Talk to them on a daily basis over why it’s important to be kind, helpful, generous, and how it benefits everyone. Reinforce their positive behavior with praise and rewards.
5. Let Your Child Solve the Problem On their Own
When your child tussles with another kid, don’t attempt to sort out the fight. Let your child do that, listen actively and get a knowhow of the entire trouble.
First, help them manage their own emotions such as anger, sadness, or frustration. Make use of breathing and counting exercises. Emphasize on how shouting, intimidation, or meanness is not the way to solve an issue.
Then, move on to finding potential solutions that are win-win for everyone. For example, “But she’s your friend, both of you are feeling very sad over this fight. Now, what could be done so both of you are happy again?” Give them a nudge towards the solution, “You could offer to share your lunch.” Try going for the ones your child suggests and modify them if necessary.
Teaching kids to negotiate and resolve conflicts is an onerous task. It requires a humongous amount of patience and empathy on your part to help the little ones understand and manage their emotions. If you’re persistent enough, there will come a day when you will be so proud of how you have raised your children into empathic and generous beings.