You’re sick of listening to it and you’re tempted just to leap in and solve the problem.
Take a deep breath before you do. Use this as an opportunity to teach your children to get along.
Follow these steps:
1. Give the argument a name. Use the word conflict. Say, “It sounds as though we have a conflict about who gets to use the computer.” Remind your kids that conflict is how we learn and grow and tell them you are going to work with them to resolve the conflict.
2. Set some rules. Both kids have to agree to work together to figure out a solution that’s fair. (If they resist, tell them they can work out the problem or they can both do without the computer.) They can’t call each other names. They have to tell the truth.
3. Get the facts. Have each child tell his side of the story. Jacob may say he’s working on a book report. Simon may say he has to look up facts for a report that’s due tomorrow.
Have each child say what he needs most. Can they figure out a way for both of them to get what they need? Be sure they state clearly what they have agreed on. You could even ask them to write down their agreement.
We can’t avoid all conflict. Learning these skills will help your kids throughout their lives—and get you out of the middle.
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