Helping kids resolve conflicts themselves

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    Karen Lock KolpKaren Lock Kolp

    In this video, which I originally made for our wonderful member Jen, we talk about strategies to use in helping kids resolve conflicts themselves.

    Here’s a quick cheat sheet for a long video:

    Jen shares how frustrated she is, that there is excessive tattling about infractions committed when she is not present. She also fears there is more meanness going on when she cannot see it.

    Jen worries that getting the kids to resolve conflicts themselves isn’t working.

    I beg to differ! In this video we celebrate what Jen is actually doing:

    • Encouraging her girls to share their feelings. This happens several ways, when one comes to Jen and says “she did this!”, and when one writes the aggressions of the other down, as Jen shows us with an adorable image of how her children do this
    • Helping them formulate the words to say what happened, and their feelings about it

    This is an outstanding start!

    Jen continues, sharing that it feels like, in the midst of all this sharing, the girls are still looking for her – Jen – to punish the sister for whatever act she just committed.

    So I share words that friends of mine use with their children:
    “You’ve done a great job telling what the problem is.… Now, what’s the solution?”

    Most important here is to remember: THIS is the work.

    It’s a long process, it takes years for kids to have the ability to successfully resolve conflicts.

    In the video I also remind Jen to have the expectation at all times, in the back of her mind, that her children ARE respectful.

    I share a study I learned of in graduate school, where a teacher’s beliefs about a child influenced how well that child did in school.
    In other words if a researcher said to a teacher “see that child over there? She’s a genius. She scored out of this world on her IQ tests… But keep it on the down low, okay? We don’t want that knowledge to influence what happens with her peers.” Just placing that information in the teacher’s head made the outcome for that child a million times better. The children who excelled were the ones that the teacher had been previously told “this kid is supersmart”… Even if that kid had never taken any IQ tests, or been shown to be smarter than anybody else in the class.

    It’s the expectation on the part of the adult that matters.

    So, act as if your child is the most respectful person you have ever met.

    Believe it.

    Because that is what makes it true, as your child grows up in the years go by.

    Taking into account everything above, here is how to help kids resolve conflicts themselves:

    1) Encourage your kids to say what happened and share their feelings about it
    2) Help them come up with a solution that RESPECTFULLY resolves the conflict
    3) Enter every discussion with the expectation that children will treat each other respectfully

    Please holler with questions or comments. Cheers!

    Host of the We Turned Out Okay podcast
    Author of Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics: Key Tools to Handle Every Temper Tantrum, Keep Your Cool, and Enjoy Life With Your Young Child
    Head Honcho of the Ninja Parenting Community

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