Handling Conflict with Your Children

Problems between children will come and go; the key is trying to lessen the problems and make them go away faster.  How does a parent resolve conflict with their children and still come out looking positive in their child’s eyes?  The following suggestions have been tried by parents and will hopefully help you in your quest to find peace in your home.

Arguing between one another.  Voices are raised and you know that if you don’t intervene at some point, someone is going to get hurt, stop what you are doing and stand nearby to listen.  Walk in on the argument only if you know it may lead to bloodshed.  Once you are in the room, don’t ask about who started anything; instead take one child out of the room, talk with them separately then the next.  Compare stories and then form a judgment.  After you have rendered the necessary punishment, allow the children space apart.  Put children in separate rooms with a few of their favorite toys.  Believe it or not, but children need their personal time too.

Physical fighting between siblings.  You already hear the fighting, go in and stop it by physically separating both parties.  Once everyone is calmed down, then talk with each separately to find out what happened and discipline accordingly.  As mentioned above, give them their personal time.  Don’t use their moment of freedom as punishment; instead, explain to them how the personal time benefits them. 

Making public scenes.  Your beautiful daughter or handsome son has just decided to let the world know how much you have angered them.  Don’t react negatively out in public that is what they want.  Instead, react as calmly as possible, then once you are home, handle it in the way you deem fit.

Stealing.  You just found out that your child has stolen something.  When confronting your son or daughter, don’t be surprised if he or she denies what was done.  Take some of their favorite things away for a time, later ask them how does that make he or she feel? Maybe the child will confess, but then again maybe not. 

Lying.  Not sure whether he or she is lying?  Assume you already know that your children are lying and provide details as if you know what you are talking about.  For instance, I already know you took XYZ because you left behind crumbs on the kitchen counter.  Pay attention to their mannerisms if you know your kids well, you will know whether they are telling the truth.  If you can’t tell, accuse them of something you know they didn’t do and watch their reaction.  Compare the two reactions that will help you learn how to tell when they are lying or being truthful.

Crying.  A child will not stop crying when you are continuously saying to them to stop it or be quiet.  However, they will begin to tone it down if you distract them with a toy, television, food, a walk outside or car ride.  Don’t make a big deal of any emotional situation and they will grow not to make a big deal of it either.  For instance, if your child falls down, don’t yell and run over in panic, this will only make him or her think that the situation is worse than it is and now you will have to spend a longer amount of time to get him or her to calm down.

Sneaky behavior.  Children who realize they will get in trouble for negative behaviors will do just about anything to avoid punishment, including placing blame on someone else, hiding the broken keepsake then lying about it, trying to fix the mishap while making matters worse, etc.  As a parent your job is to find out about the sneaky behavior and discipline both effectively and immediately.  If it means taking privileges away, treasured gifts, cutting off their social life for a time and other things that mean so much to them. 

Playing adults against one another.  You may have already experienced this, but if you haven’t you are in for a surprise.  You tell your child “no” to something and then they go and ask another adult who may or may not be aware of your objection and that adult says, “yes” to your child.  You tell this adult about the conversation you had with the child and he or she downplays your objection with “Oh I didn’t know you told him no, so what’s the big deal anyway?”  Now you are upset and proceed to explain to them why it is such a big deal.  The two of you begin to argue.  You have just been played!  Set the ground rules with your child from the beginning as well as the consequences if they should break the rules. Then, communicate with the adults they will be in contact with about your rules, hopefully before your child gets to them. 

The favoritism accusation.   If you have been accused of favoring one child over the other, then chances are, you have.  The bigger cookie, more toys, more clothes, more money and whatever more you gave to the other.  You may have done it unknowingly; however, now you will have to watch how big you cut that piece of cake.  Now if there is an age difference between the two, then you can always explain to your youngest child that their brother or sister is older, bigger or did well on their test or with their chores and that when they are bigger, older, wiser, etc. they will get more too.

The famous “I hate you!” statement.  This statement comes from the deepest part of your child’s soul, don’t dismiss this statement, but the truth is that in that moment he or she means it.  You violated him or her in the worse way when you told them “no”—I know big deal, right? But it was something that your son or daughter really wanted to do, even if it meant that you were saving his or her life.  Your well- meaning efforts don’t matter and the only way you will get on their “good side” is to give in to their demands.  Now why would you do that?  If you choose to do this, you might as well send your child out with the wolves.  Remember there are many things children will get over especially when you are protecting them as well as explaining your reasons.  Maybe next time if your child demonstrates a little self-control and respect, you just might let him or her have their way—and oh what a lesson to be learned!

To your success!

Nicholl McGuire

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