Fight-Free February or Madness-Free March | How to positively handle conflict with your children

In successful relationships it’s not that there is no conflict but conflicts are well-handled.  When there is conflict the following approach will help stop it escalating and allow for disagreement without harming the relationship.

Ask for what you want, rather than criticising or accusing Instead of “You never clean up after yourself. You treat me like a slave.” Say “Please put your clothes in the laundry basket.”The first 3 minutes of an interaction will determine how well the conflict discussion will proceed. If it starts with criticism and blame it will go downhill from there.

Consider the other’s point of view. This is hard to do when you are in conflict but it is essential to remember that there are two perspectives. It is easier to do if you have built a culture of appreciation in your family. Be prepared to understand and validate the other’s point of view even if you don’t agree. “When you shouted at me then I guess you were really mad about me turning off the PlayStation. You really get engrossed in those games and it’s hard for you to tear yourself away or even to listen to me. They are designed to be really compelling.”

Repair and redirect the interaction when it is getting negative. “I’m sorry, that wasn’t a nice thing for me to say. I think we need a time out.” “When you talk to me like that I feel hurt. Can you rephrase it?”

Compromise. How can we find a solution that is fair to both of us? “I know you love your PlayStation game and you also need to do your homework and do some other things. How are we going to work this out?”

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