“But Daaaad-deee he started it!”
Sometimes we really do need the wisdom of King Solomon!
It is difficult for us to know who actually started it. During the heat of the moment, though, it is perhaps best if we don’t try to resolve the dispute ourselves by telling one child what to do.
We may see a child take the cookie off her sibling’s plate, but we may not be privy to what lead up to that cookie snatching moment.
What would Solomon do?
I really don’t know, but one tactic you might try is to let the kids work it out themselves. Don’t get caught in the blame game, trying to figure out who did what to whom when, where and why. Simply tell the kids that they need to work out their problems.
This tactic does need some preparation if possible. Even if you haven’t prepared your children with the following techniques, you will certainly get them prepared for learning some new ways of handling conflict if you let them try to figure the problem out on their own. Their efforts will turn some fertile ground for your work!
The preparation techniques that you can help your children with include the following:
- Understanding that we are all in the same boat;
- There are certain ground rules in your family, such as no hitting, biting, pinching, spitting–in short nothing to inflict physical harm to another person;
- No name calling, again no words used with the intent to harm another;
- Using five-step problem solving to get to a win-win solution.
Understanding that they are in the same boat will perhaps help each child think before they act. If they can see their actions affecting everyone else in the family, or larger community, that is a great first step to understanding the consequences of our behavior-an important part of what is called “executive function.”
Learning how to white water canoe helped me learn the meaning of this idiom. When you don’t act in tandem with the other paddler, you’ll end up in the water, in a whirlpool, or down a waterfall. Instilling the vision of teamwork in your family is a preparation for problem solving.
Having clear rules for interaction also produces a sense of teamwork and fair play. Let your children know that in your family you use words to solve problems and do not act or speak in a manner where the intention is to hurt others.
How are you going to find a way to use words to solve problems?
Next week we’ll take an in-depth look at the five-step problem solving method that includes these five parts:
- Recognizing the problem
- Identifying the problem
- Brainstorming for solutions
- Choosing the best solution
- Checking back to make sure it is working.