Stop the Fighting - 4 Step Process

empowering your teenager empowerment mindset family enrichment Feb 05, 2024

Do your children always seem to be fighting? Maybe you have younger children who fight over toys or who gets to go first in a game. Maybe you have older children who fight over who gets to sit where in the car or a mess left in a shared bathroom. Maybe your children just pick on each other and are always up in each other's personal space.

 

I am here to assure you that it is possible to have your children get along. It is possible to develop a spirit of cooperation and appreciation within your home.

 

Unfortunately, it is easy for us to get pulled into the emotional fray when our children fight. For me, the default was frustration. The frustration came when I felt like I had no control over my children’s behavior.

 

So let’s start with a shift in our perspective. Think about this for a minute.

 

  • How else could you look at the circumstances in which your children fight?
  • What opportunities do they present?

 

Here are a few possibilities.

 

A fight between your children is an opportunity to teach them to manage their emotions. It is an opportunity to develop compassion and listening skills. It is an opportunity to deepen the connection between siblings—a connection that will carry into their adult lives.

 

From this perspective, you could say that the fight is a gift. Adopting a love-based mindset puts you in the best position to coach and empower your children. It turns a problem into an important part of your family’s journey.

 

With this perspective, let's review a 4-step process for getting the most value out of a sibling disagreement.

 

 

Step 1: Set up the process for handling disagreements ahead of time. This is about being proactive. Acknowledge that there are going to be times when a fight will break out or a disagreement will happen. Establish the intention to handle any disagreements with respect, compassion, and love. Then introduce the following four steps as a framework for resolving the disagreement and healing any damage done to the relationship.

 

Step 2: Regain composure. Teach your children that you can’t resolve a disagreement or develop solutions when emotions are running high. The only goal when someone is overwhelmed with emotion is to regain composure. Once everyone has calmed down, the conversation can move on to resolving the conflict. This is a great time to ask self-awareness questions.

 

  • How would you describe what you are feeling?
  • Where do you feel it in your body?
  • What did you notice when you started to feel overwhelmed?

 

Discuss some strategies for regaining composure. Deep breaths. Physical movement. Going to a quiet, peaceful place. Listening to music.

 

From a loving perspective, these situations create an opportunity to develop your child’s emotional intelligence.

 

Step 3: Sit face-to-face and have each child share their perspective. This step provides two benefits. First, each of the children will feel as if they have been seen and heard. More importantly, this is an opportunity to teach listening skills. Introduce the idea of seeking to understand what the other person is really trying to say. To accomplish this, I recommend focusing on the following:

 

  • Clarifying questions: Example: What do you mean when you say I always do this?
  • Acknowledging: Example: Let me see if I get it. You are saying that it embarrasses you when I make fun of the way you dress in front of your friends.
  • Validating: Example: I can see how that would be embarrassing.

 

During their time in the “listening” role, this is all they can do. There are no counterpoints or defenses for their actions.

 

Finally, I recommend that the offended or injured child share their perspective first. If it is not clear who this is, then have the younger child share their perspective first.

 

Stretch goal: To introduce compassion, share this idea. All unwanted or bad behavior is a call for love. If you and your children can start to really get this idea, everything will change.

 

Step 4: Move to solutions. Now it is time to come up with a way to resolve the conflict, discuss alternative ways to handle the situation if it comes up again, and heal any damage to the relationship.

 

Note: Please remember that you can’t move to solutions until everyone has regained composure and each child has had the chance to share their perspective. A lack of cooperation during this step is a signal to circle back to steps 2 and 3.

 

Introduce the idea that a solution has to work for everyone. Then teach your children to be proactive. Encourage them to come up with ways to handle the situation better the next time. Finally, address any damage done to their relationship. This could include apologies, acknowledgements of each other, or plans to rebuild trust.

 

Here is a great way to wrap up the discussion and promote healing in the relationship. Do a group hug and have everyone say, “Even when we fight, we still love each other.”

 

Consider this definition of a successful family:

 

A successful family is one where everyone speaks with respect, honors differences, and supports and empowers each other.

They have a knack for dealing with really difficult issues, while at the same time, they truly enjoy being together.

There is a sense of peace, joy, purpose, and love within the home.

 

This is absolutely possible for your family and your home. The first step is for you to adopt a love-based mindset. This will put you in a position to introduce these steps to your children and take full advantage of the opportunities to empower them to be their absolute best.

 

Your Family Enrichment Coach,

Jim white

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