Last night was “back to school night” where Alex got to meet her 3rd grade teacher and get the low-down on the class rules. Parents got to hear the “rules and codes of conduct” of the school again, which is a good thing because I think there were parents who weren’t listening last year! Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Anyhoo, there was one thing the Principal said that made me sit up a little straighter: “The only two people who can resolve a conflict are the two people who have the conflict.” Whoa, that was like a light bulb went off over my head.
I feel as though I am always getting pulled kicking and screaming into the middle of the kids’ conflicts. The kids are fighting over something stupid, screaming at each other at the top of their lungs, one or both starts crying, and then…Moooooommm! Does that sound familiar in your house? Each child wants me to take their side of the argument. Most days I am so exhausted of being a referee, I feel like building a penalty box in my house! “5 minutes for interference!”
Our school subscribes heavily on the “Love and Logic” method. Love and Logic principles rely on natural consequences for ones own actions. When a child understands that the consequences they’re experiencing were caused by their choices, they will learn to make better choices. Simply put, if a student doesn’t get enough sleep the night before a big spelling test and are too tired to remember how to spell the words, they learn that getting a good night’s sleep helps them do better in class. For some, this concept may take a little longer to catch on.
So how do you stop the fighting so you can find peace? Help kids find a way to work it out and come to an agreement together. Parents shouldn’t try to solve every problem for their kids, even if they want you to. Sounds easier said than done. I read Love and Logic years ago but I think I need a refresher course.
Here’s a few ideas that will go on my to-try list:
- Running on empty. Explain that all this fighting is causing you to run on empty and you’re too tired to [insert their favorite activity, like walk to the park, here].
- Let’s go to bed. “If you are too tired to be nice to each other, then you must be too tired to stay up.” The fighting must stop or they will have to go to bed early (or right now) and stick to your guns.
- Intervention. Give each child 1 minute to voice his/her side of the story while the other child listens. Then ask each child to come up with a solution to the problem. Ask them how they can compromise to solve the conflict. Giving them the chance to solve the problem gives them a sense of accomplishment.
- Use your indoor voice. Don’t lose your temper too. This only escalates the fighting and tears. This can be so hard to do. But it does work.
- Don’t lecture. The more words you use, then less effective they become.
- I love you too much. If they still can’t keep the peace, now would be a good time for them to go to separate rooms. “I love you both too much to see you fight.”
- Feed the fight. And sometimes the fighting is caused by low blood sugar. Are the kids hungry? Would a snack improve their mood? Then get them a snack, woman! Quick!
And if none of the above works? Blow the whistle and send them to the box!