February 24, 2013


young boys,fotolia,happy,tshirts,smiling,thumbs up,confidentWhile we often don’t know how OUR children handle conflicts with their children, when we’re with our great-grandchildren, challenges require the delicate art of finding the middle ground. Everyone has a different ways of finding solutions to contentious issues. As the adults, it is important to remember that we are always in charge of the children’s safety, however, in many situations there is some room for negotiation. Life would certainly be a bit less stressful and more peaceful if we all learned to give up something in order to get something else.

In order to accomplish this, adults and children must: Listen to each other and respect what the other is saying. Often, disagreements about what time to go to bed, what to wear, what outing to go on, etc. can turn into loud yelling matches, where nothing positive gets accomplished, and the aftermath can leave everyone with bad feelings.

There are some things that absolutely CANNOT be debated or challenged: car safety, behavior in public places, going to school, etc. (You can make your own list).

Children need to feel that they have some options over their actions and lives. By giving them choices they may feel that they are “respected” and have some control.

For example:
Sarah wants to choose what to wear to the family gathering. You suggest two warm outfits with matching leggings. She says, “NO, Mom always let’s me choose what I want to wear and I want to wear the sundress”. You might explain that she’ll be cold without the leggings. She’s insistent on her choices. You respect the parent’s guidelines, but tell her that if she chooses to wear what she wants, she must wear a warm jacket or sweater.
You are being responsible and respectful.

Here’s another example of a mutually agreeable outcome to a common problem.
Anthony has come for a sleep-over at your house. You know that his normal bedtime is 8:30pm. It’s after dinner, and he starts asking if he can stay up late and watch “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” which will keep him up past his bedtime. You suggest that he watch it in the morning, but he’s not buying that. So you ask him to think about another way of solving the problem. He says, “Can I watch half tonight and half tomorrow?”
This is the perfect compromise – it’s not breaking any family rules and is showing that you respect his suggestion.

We realize that things aren’t always this easy, but it does illustrate ways to make our lives easier. We can not go through life always having our way. We can enhance our lives by negotiating with those we love. Negotiation and compromise doesn’t mean losing the battle: It means that constructive bargaining replaces yelling, temper tantrums and not resolving the issue. When children are allowed to negotiate, sometimes they will make choices that work, and other times they will learn from their mistakes. This is called growing up.