This is the last in a 4 part series of blogs that has looked at listening and how to manage your child’s negative behaviour when they don’t listen. If you missed them, you can read part 1 here and part 2 here. In part 3 we looked at the first 2 strategies that you can use to get your children to listen to you. The first was to manage your own state, and the second to help your child manage their negative emotions. I will cover strategies 3 and 4 below.
Strategy 3: Resolve Conflict Peacefully
Strategy 3 is one that helps children separate out the facts from the emotions in a situation. As you know, when children (and to some extent in adults to!) are caught in a stressful situation, they usually can’t think clearly. By asking some key questions, you can help your child to move from their emotional thinking, to their cognitive side which helps them to calm down quicker.
Think of this scenario – your children are ages 7 and 11 and are fighting. Instead of perhaps shouting at them to stop and escalating the situation, try the following:
- Ask them both individually what has happened (helping both children feel validated). Ask them to write this down if they can, or draw a picture of they are young.
- Ask them how they feel about what has happened – do they know what emotion that is and ask them to write it down.
- Acknowledge their feeling (whatever it is) and use empathetic listening when doing this.
- Ask them for one solution to the problem and accept whatever it is they say without judgement.
- Ask them to try and think of three solutions each.
- Tell them that for a solution to be good, it needs to be three things:
- Lead to a win/win situation
- Decide which of their solutions meet this criteria
Usually, by going through this problem solving process, the children can see that you have dealt with the situation fairly. This models to them how next time, they could perhaps resolve the situation themselves and not need you as much. You are equipping your children with the tools and skills they need to resolve conflict peacefully.
Strategy 4: Break Patterns of Arguments
We have already established earlier in the first part of this blog series that children’s behaviour is often their way of trying to communicate with you.
Rudolf Dreikurs (an Austrian psychiatrist) believed that discipline is based on mutual respect and that we all have a primary need to belong and feel part of a group. He believed that when children are unable to gain their genuine goal of belonging and connection with a parent, then they turn into a series of mistaken goals:
Let’s take a look at some examples of how arguments are patterns and how these might be resolved in a different way:
The next time you find yourself getting into an argument with your child, why not refer back to this table.
Remember, by the time children reach the age of around 7-9 their brains are ready to start pruning away their brain neural pathways of old patterns that aren’t useful, it is your job however as a parent to help them to do this by breaking old patterns and replacing them with more effective and productive ones. Once we understand how patterns in our children’s behaviour work, not only can we make changes to avoid such situations arising, but also to break the patterns through more positive outcomes.
We really hope you have enjoyed this series of blogs, there is a wealth of information throughout the series that will help you to make positive changes to dealing with your children’s emotions, as well as your own!
Remember, a lot of us carry with us the tools and techniques our parents used to teach, and discipline us as children. As the decades have passed, more and more research has indicated that children in fact require a much different approach. Our aim is to help parents to feel knowledgeable and armed with strategies to help their children grow up to be happy, healthy human beings as well as provide children with strong emotional intelligence so they can grow up to pass on these newer techniques to the following generations!
I teach skills like listening in my HAPPY Workshop so we can put the above into practice. To find out more about the course and book, please click here to sign up to my mailing list – thanks!