Imagine, no more threatening turning off the WIFI if they don’t stop bickering? No more policing their every move.
The problem with our usual responses is that we try and stop our children fighting, however, we will never see the long-lasting change we so want for our family from this place.
We mean well as parents. Of course, we want to stop the fighting and protect the usually younger child from attack. It’s easy to see our more reactive child as a bully and mean, and we project these judgments onto our child.
Can you see how this approach back-fires? We can find ourselves creating MORE of the behaviour we don’t want. We push our child to feel resentment and anger towards their sibling and us.
This is precisely where a child can feel like they’re always being told off, got it wrong again, misunderstood and powerless. Defensiveness goes up and we are not in the position to offer our child guidance. We push our child to come out fighting.
Our children will stop themselves when they first feel heard, understood and validated.
That’s why the 3-step coaching model, Language of Listening® is so life-changing. – You will have children who STOP fighting. on. their. own. Now, wouldn’t that be nice?!
It all starts with the first step” SAY WHAT YOU SEE®
Many of us have tried to use empathy and say things like “You’re really angry!”and then we are left stumped as what else to do.
The key is to stay here until your child feels like you really ‘get’ him and why he is ‘right’ to feel angry.
This is not the time for teaching lessons. Your child already knows he shouldn’t hit, and he knows hitting hurts.
If you are feeling resistance to this, remember that acknowledging is not the same as agreeing.
If your children are hurting each other or damaging property, you have to step in and separate them. However, it is all about your intention. To support, guide and assist them. Not to join in the anger and frustration.
Let’s look at an example:
It could sound like this:
SWYS: “You pushed your brother! You are SO mad at him, I bet it feels like he always gets his way. You feel like you’re the one that gets told off and he never does. You want him to know it’s really unfair!”
Then pause. Don’t go into fixing or finding solutions yet.
It’s your time to really listen, to understand why a great child, like yours, would do that.
Why would hurting his brother make sense? Not to agree or condone the behaviour but to get on your child’s side to then be able to move on to offer guidance.
If your child takes another thwack at his brother:
SWYS: You know that’s not OK with me, and you hit him anyway. You must be pretty angry and resentful to hit your brother. Hitting him again feels like you’re now even. You’re sick and tired of being the one who ALWAYS gets told off.
Or something like this:
SWYS: “I know you don’t like battling with your brother. You wish he would give you space. I bet it’s super annoying that he wants to play with your things the whole time. You don’t like fighting, I can tell you’ve had enough, and you don’t know what else to do. I bet you feel blamed when I start shouting at you. Must be some better way I can help you. Let’s talk this out in your room.”
Only when your child feels truly heard and validated can you move to find solutions that work for you all.
SWYS: “So, you want to be able to have time alone, you want him to stop bugging you. AND it looks like shouting and hurting him isn’t working.”
CAN DO: “Must be something you can do!”
Your child might say: “Well! I want to hurt him. He’s super annoying!”
And again, you make your child ‘right.’
SWYS: “Of course you want to hurt him, hurting him makes you feel better in the moment. And it looks like it’s not getting your brother to leave you alone. It just leaves everyone upset and angry.”
Now you can start looking for solutions.
You might have to facilitate your child’s efforts to find solutions that work for everyone. Perhaps your older child can have a special place to have alone time and keep his most prized toys away from his younger brother; maybe your older child dedicates a set amount of time to play with the younger brother. Only you and your family will know what works for you all.
When your child finds a solution, you can then point out the STRENGTHs
STRENGTH:“You found a way to make it work.” Or “You figured out how to have your own space and find time to play with your brother, too.”
SO, rather than focusing your energy on stopping your children fighting, focus on WHY they fight, find CAN DOs, and they will learn to stop themselves because they want to. – so you don’t have to.