How to Teach Your Child to Deal with Arguments
If the current state of politics is indicative of conflict resolution, dealing with arguments can be a dicey proposition. Tempers flare, words fly, and in the end, no one wins.
Confrontation is ugly, and most adults don’t like addressing it. It’s even tougher when you have to teach your child how to deal with arguments.
For your children to become successful adults, they must understand conflict resolution, and here’s how to teach them the skills they need:
The best way to gain an advantage is to listen.
Listening, however, can be the most difficult part of communication. To listen well means waiting to formulate your response until the other person has finished talking. Instead, wait until the speaker is done, and then summarize what was said by stating, “I hear you saying . . . .”
Show that you understand the argumentative person by validating his or her concerns. A simple statement like, “I get why you’re angry right now; anybody in your situation would be mad” is a way to validate the anger.
If you’re raising children, you can expect arguments over issues large (curfew) and small (hair). Since you know the arguments are coming, establish your boundaries from the beginning and remain consistent in enforcing them.
Are loud voices okay? Will you let them hold their breath? Use profanity?
If your kids cross boundaries in arguments, calmly tell them that what they’re saying is important. You want to know their opinion, but if they can’t express it to you calmly, wait until they can. Then walk away.
Teach that physical force is never okay in an argument.
Know when to step in
You want your kids to learn how to fight their battles, and they will in due time. Until then, your children will need your help with some of their arguments. Be there for them and provide needed emotional support. That may involve hearing them out, or for older children, asking if they want you to become involved in their argument.
If they say no, ask what support they’d like you to provide.
Teach mediation skills
Rather than no one getting a piece of the pie, letting everyone walk away with something can be a satisfying end to an argument.
Your peer mediation and conflict resolution skills show children how to better deal with arguments.
Obviously, the steps you teach in how to handle an argument have to be developmentally appropriate for your child. Sometimes a simple game like Rock-Paper-Scissors can provide the best way for kids to deal with a potentially volatile situation.