- Call a truce. Angry words need to halt. Parental role: Enforcer - making sure that any mean behaviors or angry words have been put aside long enough to allow a real conversation to begin.
- Agree to talk it out Establish guidelines whereby everyone gets a chance to be heard. And get an agreement, right from the start, that no one gets to interrupt anyone else. This is a chance to really define what the problem is and to insure that everyone feels that they got to fully express their thoughts. Parental role: Clarifier – making sure that everyone has a chance to speak, is respected and is understood, as you all work together to clarify what the problem actually is.
- Solution investigation time. Give everyone the opportunity to either write down their solution or to say it out loud. Parental role: Conduit – fostering discussion while making sure that every potential solution is presented, fully discussed and weighed out.
- Decision making time. After a thorough discussion a final resolution is selected and agreed upon. Parental role: Supporter - helping kids to see the desired resolution, and how it will affect them both individually and as a group.
- Action! Your kids have confirmed that they know what is wrong and what choices they can make to change the situation. Now they just need to do it! Parental role: Reminder – Help your children to develop and put in place a plan of action so that the desired change can happen. Keep everything moving in a positive fashion avoiding potential glitches and future conflicts. Once things have been smoothed out, congratulate your kids for working through their conflicts.
Empower your children by letting them know that they have been heard, and that they are a valued member of a change making team. By consistently following this process your children will develop the awareness, skills and understanding to capably resolve future issues. It won't happen overnight but the more you consistently respond to conflict by following these 5 steps the sooner their response will become habit. Our hope is that by establishing a regular forum for discussing dissent, change can occur with minimal anger or anxiety.