So, your kids are home either because you homeschool regularly or because public school is canceled. But now- well, they are really home. Every day, no going out, pull-out-your-hair isolation home. So, what can you do to keep inevitable conflict moving you forward and drawing you together rather than tearing you apart?
Slow Down and Manage the Conflict Well
Conflict is often heightened because we as parents are yelling over our shoulders as we busily wash the dishes, crank out that work email, or change a little one’s diaper. Try this:
Turn off the water, save the email draft, and wrap up the diaper change before you respond. Get down on the kids’ level and find out from each child what happened.
- Pick an object (a toy, a remote control, a book- whatever). This is your “talking stick”
- Whoever has the talking stick is the one who gets to talk. Everyone else listens, asks questions, and acknowledges what was said. Teach the other child to say, “I hear you saying that it hurt your feelings when I called you a name. I’m sorry.” Focus on respectful tones and attitudes.
- When the first child is finished, change roles. Make sure the other child listens and acknowledges.
Teach your children how to apologize well (every time):
This is out of a book I’m writing on how to help your kids know God for themselves, standing in awe of Him and drawing near. The devotional study work has a part that goes into apologizing well. Here is a short summary:
- Say, “I’m sorry.”
- Admit, “I was wrong.”
- Make amends, “Let me try to make it right if I can.”
- Repent, “I don’t ever want to hurt you this way again.”
- Ask, “Would you please forgive me?”
Manage Your Heart Well
It’s impossible not to snap at your kids, speak too loudly or harshly, or just emit a sour attitude if you are not guarding your own heart well. Take time with the Lord in His Word, in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. When you find yourself responding in ways you don’t want your kids to imitate, take a time out for yourself. Set your kids up with puzzles, coloring books, a page of homework they can do on their own, their music lesson or something, and tell them you need a little time to talk to God and ask Him to help you have a good attitude and a thankful heart (or whatever you are struggling with). Be honest with them that you struggle, too, and share with them how God helps you.
Manage the Day Well by Focusing on the Positives
We tend to get caught up in what are kids are doing wrong instead of what they are doing right; what is going wrong rather than what is going right.
- Catch your kids being kind, helpful, brave, noble, sacrificial, insightful. Think about the aspects of character you are working with each child to develop. Praise the growth you see each day in the little things they say and do.
- Manage your words and tone. Be sure you aren’t shaming your kids, speaking disrespectfully (check out The Respect Effect), name-calling, or saying any word or phrase that could make your children think you don’t believe in them, don’t respect them, or don’t love them.
- Connect on a heart level. Find out: what they are excited about, what God is teaching them, what they enjoy, what frustrates them and why, etc.
- Create and have your kids create a thankfulness journal. Write in it small conversations, little events during the day, changes in your heart, etc that remind you of God working and God giving good gifts in the midst of your days.
What Have You Found Helpful?
What tactics, approaches, and insights do you have about managing conflict? How do you use conflict to build up rather than tear down relationships? Please share any tips or insights you have in the comments below.
More Like This
Here are some other ideas shared to encourage you to engage deeply with your kids, be whole, and delight in the micro and macro of your time with them:
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