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Thursday, January 19, 2012

To get involved or Not get involved

To get involved or Not get involved, that is the question.

As my 12 year old and 6 year old are fighting over a bag of popcorn, while being stuck in the house because of a snow storm. My first initial instinct is to just go over and just take the popcorn. I am a somewhat control freak by nature. This is something I have been trying to change and have to work on every day. Today I relinquish my control. I sit there and wait while the screaming gets louder and more intense. I know that its only over a bag of popcorn and it soon will stop. A few minutes later the shrieking stops and there they are, popcorn bag on the counter in the decision that " no one" gets the bag and they can each eat popcorn while its sitting there.

This is only one of the many tiffs that my lovely children may get into on a daily basis.

As the mother of 4, the question.....To get involved or Not get involved?... crosses my mind quite often. My own mother had raised us in a house that she left us to work it out on our own. In which,  I  wasn't surprised to see when taking my college courses on Early childhood education and development and Child psychology, that most child development experts agree with letting children work it out between each other. That this is the natural way of learning social skills and working out differences.

I am a true believer of this method. I think when you have multiple children and you let them work out their problems with each other, then they learn exceptional problem solving skills on how to deal with conflict with others. Which in turn, they can use when they are grown up and out in the world.

I know people personally that strongly disagree with this... as they call letting your children work it out between each other... "irresponsible parenting"
These will be the parents that you see hovering around a child's every move. I have even seen a parent speak for their child before the child has a chance to answer a question. This drives me crazy! I feel that when that child gets out in the world someday by themselves, they are not going to have their mommy or daddy there to help defend them. Thus, this isn't really helping them if they had never learned the skills to deal with conflict on their own.

Please don't get me wrong. If its a dangerous situation between my kids and their siblings or between my kids and other kids I will firmly intervene. I also know that at a young age its a good idea to teach your children skills that they can use when in an argument or some kind of disagreement.

I try and remind my children that they need to use words, hear both sides, and if ?...they do need a mediator because they can't seem to solve the problem , then they can come to me.This to me is them ultimately solving the problem on their own, even if they end up coming to me. This makes the decision theirs to make, and whether they want me to be involved or not.

Now... there is days when they have come to me and I tell them to keep working on it, and I may give them a few hints on how they may be able to settle the issue. I just, as a rule, don't tell them exactly what to do.
This technique has proved to work very well so far.

Mind you, my children are older now and with younger children I have listed some hints below.

Here's some helpful hints on how to relieve conflict in your house or on the playground:

1. If the child is age 2- 5  and is in a fight about a toy etc...

A.) Watch from the side and see if it resolves on  its own.

B.) If the children proceed to just yell and scream at each other or there is just a lot of crying in general. Walk over and take the toy in question.

C.) Take each child aside one at a time, and ask them... "Why are they are so upset?" When they answer, talk to them about sharing and that,... "We don't fight with our friends." Tell them that "We use words" when we want something, and its really hard to understand them when they are screaming.

D.) Then bring the children back together and watch them talk to each other and work it out. I even end with asking if they each want a hug. In most cases (when at these ages), they usually say they are sorry, and then go on playing like it never happened. (or for age can also see #2 below, this always depends on the personality of the child)

2. If the children are age 2 or under, this is just a matter of redirection. Take the toy in question and redirect them to play another game or give them each a different toy. If this doesn't work, a change of scenery may work. Go on a walk, go play in a different room , or maybe this is the time to take out the movie just so they are doing something else.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Always a hard situation when your are in the middle of a couple of screaming kids! I always tried to make them work it out without screaming. Just like you would intervene before it gets physical, I would intervene before the screaming. K