This post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life by Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.
Helping our children learn to work things out with others, sometimes with us, is an important skill and often one that leaves parents struggling. Whether you have an only child or an entire brood, helping our children learn to communicate effectively in any given situation is a life skill. So what can you do to help yourself help your children? Try remembering the 3-C’s.
Calm Down. This is probably something we should be reminding ourselves of more often. When dealing with a given situation, we need to first calm down. If we approach everything as an emergency with anxious energy, our children will pick up on that. We aren’t at our best when we are stressed out, and we can’t communicate effectively when we are all over the place. Take a second to calm down. That might mean you take a deep breath, count to ten, or some other technique that works for you.
Communicate. The main component of working something out is effective communication.
- Try describing a situation which just the facts rather than bringing in judgments or blame.
- Name feelings. We tend to shy away from talk about feelings in our society, but by opening up this pathway, we can better connect and communicate, empathize and see things from another point of view.
- Identify the problem. The problem isn’t always what it seems, and most conflict actually occurs from miscommunication. Help everyone to determine what the root of the problem is, again without and blame.
- Express the needs of everyone involved. Besides understanding what the problem is, we also need to be aware of everyone’s needs if we are going to find a solution which works for everyone involved.
Cooperate. Once everyone is calm and has communicated what the problem is and what the needs of everyone are, cooperation can commence. Brainstorm solutions and evaluate them to see if they will work for everyone. The goal is to find a winning solution for everyone rather than only meeting the needs for some. You are looking for a win/win situation rather than a win/lose situation.
Non-violent communication may seem tedious at the beginning. It does take more time than barking out an order. However, before long, as you and your children build these skills, it will become second nature to work out problems together and make life much more peaceful.