Saturday, January 9, 2010

Conflict Resolution

Who's tired of all the fighting?

I am!!

I am talking about the bickering that goes on between the children. It mainly occurs amongst the boys.

The scene is the same every time. The little one wants something. The bigger one wants something else. The argument begins. Then the yelling, crying, screaming. Then the punishing and the banishment to the room.

Oh, and I must not forget, in the middle of all this the tattle tale usually makes an appearance.

It usually isn't bad during school days, but on breaks it is inevitable and really unbearable.

This last break was no different. So, Mike and I decided to try something different.

We decided that at 7 and 9 years old it was unreasonable to expect them to be able to handle their conflict on their own. But on the other hand I can't stand the tattle tale-ing.

We called them together and told them that when they felt as if a disagreement was brewing that at the first stirring of these feelings one of them should come and talk to me or Mike.

BUT (here's the catch) they could only use "I" statements. We told them if they came to us and, using "I" statements, told us what was going on, we would help them in their conflict resolution.

We have been doing this for one week and today the boys are being rewarded with extra video game time with daddy, because they had a successful week of not arguing!

I have to admit, they have not mastered the art of the "I" statement. Here is an example of one from last night-

Joshi- "I" am getting frustrated.
Mom- What? (not realizing that we were having a conversation about conflict)
Joshi- "I" am getting frustrated.
Mom- Oh, right, you need help with a problem?
Joshi- Yes, "I" let Seth play with my toy, and now "I" want it back, but..."I" can't get him to give it back to me.

From here I was able to help him resolve the problem without fighting. The key for my boys here is them removing themselves from the situation before it escalates into irrational screaming and fighting. I don't think they are really seeing that they have a part in the disagreement, but it gives them a quick timeout so they can calmly handle it.

And right now they are actually having fun with trying to tell me the problem with the word "I" in it. I think to them it still gives them a feeling like they are telling on the other person, so they are satisfied. It isn't a perfect system and probably needs some tweaking, but hopefully we can train them to handle their difficulties calmly and work things out so there is a win, win situation. Eventually I am hoping, they will be able to handle it without coming and talking to me.

Baby steps.

Don't know if this is going to have any lasting effect, or for how long it will work, but it worked this week.

And a calmer gentler house is always a plus in my book!!