Do your children like to argue with one another? Are you at your wits ends to stop the fighting and want to scream yourself? Today, we have our favorite child psychologist to help our children learn the art of peace talks.
Dr. Valerie Allen
Licensed School Psychologist ~ Case Manager
Peace Talks : 101
Part of being a child is “testing the waters”, with siblings, peers, parents, and authority figures. Children can quickly hook us into a debate or refereeing to settle their disputes. There are strategies which encourage youngsters to stop and think before they take action. We can use these skills to help children think for themselves and solve their own problems.
- State the facts. Avoid the who, what, why response. Questions such as “Who started this? What are you into now?” and “Why did you do a thing like this?” focus on blame and gathering evidence. It also puts you in as “judge and jury” to decide the issue. Stating the facts helps children distinguish between fact and opinion.
- Seek solutions. Simply state the problem and invite children to offer ideas to solve it. Don’t be critical of their suggestions, no matter how wild or inappropriate. Talk them through it with responses such as “If we did that, what do you think would happen next?” or “How do you think so-and-so would feel it we did it that way?” or “How do you think that would make things better?” Considering various solutions helps children see things from another perspective and fosters responsibility for their decisions and behavior.
- Words as tools. Teach children to use words to express their thoughts, emotions, and needs. Eventually, they will learn to use language to express their point of view, negotiate a compromise, and persuade others. Help them label their emotions beyond “happy” and “sad”. Expanding their emotional vocabulary will enable children to identify and discuss their feelings more accurately.
- Stand their ground. Children must learn when to stand their ground. They need to know in some situations it is alright to tell someone to go away or to stop bothering them. It is okay to tell a friend they do not want to play or share their things. They need to be able to say they need time to be alone or their feelings have been hurt. Knowing what they need, how they feel, and verbalizing it helps children become self-confident and self-sufficient.
- Zero tolerance. Children must develop a firm belief that it is never alright to hurt others, physically or emotionally. Along with this is the fact it’s never okay for someone to hurt them, call them names, or take or destroy their possessions. Zero tolerance helps children learn that aggressive behavior should not be denied, minimized, or justified.
- Calling in the troops. There are circumstances when the wisest thing a child can do is walk away, ( perhaps run!) Youngsters need to learn when the situation is beyond them and the best choice is to get someone else involved. Asking for help teaches children there is a difference between tattle-tales and needing adult intervention.
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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice. She has published two childrens’ books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hat, Good Hair, New Friends.”for grades 3 -5. Oh yes, she has also has raised six children!