Do you ever have one of those days when you feel more like a basketball referee than a parent? Your kids are jockeying for attention. They argue, and you wind up in the middle, playing mediator. It’s sibling rivalry at its finest. You want to call a foul, or a timeout, and send the whole team to the bench.
But to take the basketball referee analogy a little further, there are times when you should swallow the whistle and not make a call at all. It can prove beneficial to let the children work out their differences on their own.
As a parent, there is a natural reaction to clean up the mess and put the kids back in the game. Before you do, think of these words of wisdom from “Active Respect Parenting,” which encourages parents to let kids work it out themselves.
- When your child is disrespectful, you need to show respect.
- When your child is loud, you need to respond quietly.
- When your child is irrational, you need to respond rationally.
- When your child powers up, you need to power down.
Here are three keys that can help:
- Encourage your children to talk to each other. Take the four points of Active Respect Parenting and model them to your kids, helping them power down, respect each other, and respond quietly and rationally to the situation before them.
- Ask, “If you were me, how would you solve this?” Especially for older elementary age children, this practice of placing themselves in your shoes actually empowers them. They may not always come up with the solution you would, but it gets them the opportunity to look at the problem in a new way.
- Let them share, and then put into practice what they’ve worked out. These last two steps help them clarify their solution and encourage them to hold themselves accountable. If their solution isn’t completely working, that’s OK. Let them experience the consequence first. Then you’re better positioned to step in and offer the better solution that they’ll now be more likely to accept.