If you’re a parent of siblings, you’re probably well acquainted with bickering and have had to intervene in your fair share of disagreements between your kids. As challenging and frustrating as it can be for parents, it’s completely normal for siblings to argue. In fact, sibling disagreements create opportunities for kids to learn how to overcome differences and resolve conflict in a healthy way! Because kids are still learning how to communicate respectfully and effectively, they will need your help to learn how to navigate conflict on their own.
How can you, as a parent, help your kids learn how to disagree respectfully and resolve conflict effectively? When your kids argue, try guiding them through the process of effective conflict resolution. By helping them work through their disagreements in a healthy and respectful way, they will learn how to solve problems and work through conflict without your help in the future. We have provided a step-by-step process for you to walk through with your kids when they’re experiencing a disagreement or argument.
Step 1: If they’re feeling upset and are emotionally dysregulated, encourage them to take a break and calm down. This is an important skill to learn when addressing conflict, as it is much more effective to communicate and work toward a win-win solution when both people feel calm.
Step 2: Once both kids have calmed down, have them both explain their perspective and what they want the outcome to be. Remind them to listen without interrupting to make sure they are really hearing what each other has to say. This will help them learn important active listening skills and avoid potential miscommunication.
Step 3: When each child has had a chance to express their perspective and wants, encourage them to work together to come up with a solution that they can both agree on. It’s important to try to step back and let them practice problem-solving on their own, instead of providing a solution for them. This will help them learn how to compromise and work toward win-win solutions in future disagreements.
Step 4: Check-in with both children after the conflict has been resolved to debrief what that interaction was like for them and how they’re feeling. This will help them learn how to process their feelings and reflect on ways they can resolve conflict in the future.
Remember, learning how to resolve conflict and disagree respectfully will take time, so try your best to be patient with your kids as they explore this process. We hope these steps will help your family overcome conflict in a healthy way!