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Most parents despair at times over the bickering and fighting that goes on between siblings. Conflict is a part of family life and a healthy way for children to learn useful social skills. By using sibling quarrels as a starting point, parents can teach children problem-solving skills and help them develop alternative ways to express their needs and get what they want in socially acceptable ways.
1) Feelings –> Encourage children to focus on the feelings involved in the conflict โ€“ theirs and the other personโ€™s. A fair solution can only be negotiated if everyoneโ€™s feelings are considered.
2) Define the problem –> Itโ€™s much easier to find a solution when everyone is clear exactly what the problem is. For example, โ€œWhat can you do so you have room to play with the blocks and your brother has room to drive his truck?โ€
3) Generate alternatives –> Encourage the children to come up with their own ideas โ€“ try not to make suggestions too early. Repeat the ideas back and ask for more solutions. Invite your children to think about how someone else might solve the problem.
4) Evaluate the ideas –> Go through each suggested solution and evaluate the possible outcomes. Ask โ€œWhat might happen if you . . ?โ€ or โ€œHow would your sister feel if . . .โ€
5) Ask for a decision –> Now itโ€™s time to act. Restate the problem, summarise the solutions, then let the children decide which they will try. Even if you donโ€™t think theyโ€™ve made the best choice, let them try it out and be available to help them re-evaluate if things donโ€™t work out.

This process can be tedious and at times you may be tempted to just tell your children what to do, but they will miss out on the experience of thinking for themselves. By teaching your children to resolve their own conflicts, you are helping them take the necessary steps towards independence.

If you want to learn more about how we can help your children develop the conflict resolution skills they’ll need to negotiate school please give us a call.

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