5 Rules for Helping Your Kids Fight Fair
It’s not a bad thing when your children fight. The conflict is an opportunity for them to learn how to resolve it. Without guidance, kids would be pretty darn terrible at conflict resolution. Thankfully, they have you to establish the rules.
- Establish the fair fight guidelines.
These are the rules that make sense for your family. Some ideas to get you started include:
- No name calling
- Say “I’m sorry”
- Don’t attack someone’s character
- Use “I” statements instead of “You” statements
- Be specific (“My brother hates me” is too vague, but “I don’t like it when my brother pulls my hair” is specific)
- Get on the same page with your spouse, partner or co-parent.
This is vital. If you’re not a fortified discipline and conflict resolution team, your kids will play you like a fiddle. If you and your partner have differing views regarding discipline, work them out together and establish the game plan before talking to your kids.
After hearing both sides, tell the kids something like “Mom and Dad are going to talk about the appropriate punishment.” This gives everyone time to calm down and ensures you’re on the same page when you reconvene.
- Get the kids in separate rooms before you bring them together.
This is a great way to help them relax and get their uninterrupted side of the story.
- Punish fairly.
Try to put yourself in your child’s shoes and work to understand where they’re coming from. A big part of punishing fairly is being as calm and patient as you can. Instead of seeing this as a nuisance that’s eating away at your day, remind yourself that there’s great value in this life lesson.
- Model the fair fight rules.
You’re human, just like your kids. You’ll have conflicts of your own to work through, and when you do, you can show your kids how this resolution thing is done.
Kids learn about relationships from their parents. Helping them figure out conflict resolution early in life puts them way ahead of the game, and it sets them up for success in their future marriage and family.