My kids go through cycles where they can’t stop nit-picking at each other and other times when they are the best of buddies. After a week of constant sibling rivalry over small stuff I knew I needed to give them more problem-solving tools.
For far too long, I have been the go-to problem solver a.k.a. “parent referee” so years ago I decided I had enough. I implemented in our family the “Talk It Out” strategy that I absolutely love and works wonders when it’s utilized.
But lately, I’ve noticed that they are fighting about little things that really don’t warrant a “Talk It Out” time so it’s time to expand our tools.
You As An Instrument in God’s Hands
Though their bickering and nit-picking drive me batty I know that our home is the safest place for them to develop and practice their problem-solving skills. It’s also an opportunity for me to show them God’s grace.
Here’s the thing when we have to deal with something that our child is struggling with, think of it as an opportunity where is God exposing something in your child because He loves your child. So we can ask ourselves, “How can I have a conversation with my child that will draw them closer to God?” We are instruments in the hand of God, we do not have the ability to change our child’s heart only God can do the heart change.
So let’s pray fervently for the heart of our children because behavior change always starts in the heart. As a Parent Life Coach and Family Educator, I can share tons of ideas but my most powerful tool is prayer and I stand by that 100%. These tools I share will help you in the process but they aren’t meant to solve heart issues they only deal with behavior issues.
Empowering Our Children to Come Up with Solutions
Usually what happens is one child “playfully” does something that bothers the other child. Sometimes it’s with the intent to joke around and other times it’s with the intent to irritate. The other child returns the gesture and they are both laughing until someone gets upset.
That’s when we have a child whining about their sibling being mean.
When they were younger after I heard their woeful complaint I would just empathize with them and they’d runoff. But now that happens less and less, they want the other child to get in trouble.
I asked questions to get them to take responsibility for accessing the level of the problem. I’d say things like, “Between 1-5 how hurtful was the problem? Is this a problem you can ignore or one that you need to talk out with your brother?” Since we were dealing with problems in the 1-2 range I’d build their confidence by saying, “I believe you are able to handle this situation without my help.”
Problem Solving Tools
Here’s the S.T.A.N.D. acronym I’ve developed to help guide my children on problem-solving but also easy enough for them to use on their own once you’ve explained it and have gone through it with them a couple of times.
I have outlined it below for you to use at any point and I’ve also created an easy to follow & colorful graphic (shown below) that you can get in my SHOP.
When you get to the “T” make sure you let your child know that determining the size of the problem doesn’t determine the size of the hurt. This step helps you determine what to do next. If it’s a big problem because someone is being inappropriate we do not want you to ignore it. Or if someone is harming you we do not want you to be flexible. That’s why determining the size will let you know if you need to tell an adult right away or if you need to work it out following the solutions below.
State the problem. What happened? What is bothering you?
Think about the size of the problem. If it’s a big problem tell an adult right away.
Big problem clues: It’s dangerous, inappropriate, harming you or someone else, something is broken, or someone is bleeding. If the problem is small you can figure it out yourself by following the steps below.
Ask God for help. Ask God to help you calm down. You can count to 5 slowly, talk a walk, do wall push-ups, deep breaths, pray or use a stress ball…
Name the solution. Choose a way you can solve the problem.
Problem Solving strategies:
- Choose something else to do.
- Be flexible.
- Move away from that person.
- Apologize. When we make mistakes saying sorry helps repair.
- Take turns.
- Win-win solution
- Wait for your turn.
- Talk it out.
- Ignore it.
- Say Stop! Use your strong voice and tell the person you’re not okay with ____.
- I messages – I felt ___, when ___. Please ___.
Do it. Try 2 solutions. Ask an adult if guidance is needed.
Just remember practice is essential in empowering our children with a new tool so be patient if it takes a while. But the slow work is so worth it! The benefits will far outweigh the barriers. They will learn how to solve problems at home and then watch how it will carry over to outside the home. I had my son’s teacher stop me after school and shared how she overhead my son helping his friends solve a problem at school. She told me what she heard and so much of it overlapped what we were teaching him at home!