Tag Archive for conflict

A Baker’s Dozen to Show Grace in Troubled Relationships

John Gottman believes “91% of the time the ground is ripe for miscommunications” in a marriage. I don’t know about the percentage, but I know conflict and misunderstandings arise in every family. It is inevitable. But, have you notice that family conflict can go from familysunheartbad to worse in no time? Grace gets thrown out the window and everyone involved begins to respond with anger, blame, accusations, and defensiveness. These responses lead to more anger, blame, accusations, and defensiveness. They may even result in withdrawal from the relationship and the death of a family. How can you avoid this terrible end? Respond with grace. Grace is an unmerited kindness, a favor given to someone even if they do not deserve it. When at least one person responds with grace, the outcome of the interaction will change. The people involved in the argument have a greater chance of connecting rather than pushing one another away. The argument has a greater chance of reaching a resolution. Let me share a baker’s dozen for responding with grace in the midst of troubled family relationships.

  • Rather than blaming the other person, look at your own contribution to the current situation (the log in your own eye).
  • Rather than making accusations, accept responsibility for your own actions and your own limited understanding.
  • Rather than responding with defensiveness, respond with curiosity about the feelings and emotions of the other person.
  • Rather than shutting down, communicate with the other person.
  • Rather than arguing and fighting, share a friendly conversation about something that interests the other person. If some topics lead to arguments, table them for another time.
  • Rather than assuming negative intent about the other person and their actions, look for the times they showed love. Assume positive intent—even in seemingly negative behavior.
  • Rather than trying to control the situation or the other person, pursue an understanding of the other person.
  • Rather than focus on the negative you perceive in the other, focus on what you admire and adore in them.
  • Rather than trying to make the other person change or “grow,” focus on your personal growth. You are only responsible for your personal growth.
  • Rather than criticizing and making accusations about the other person’s past or character, practice kindness…and give a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).
  • Rather than making assumptions about the other person’s motives or intents, believe the best and simply ask what the other person wants.
  • Rather than speaking in sarcasm, speak in patience and love.
  • Rather than taking responsibility for the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and decision, take responsibility for yourself. You cannot make the other person happy—that is their personal responsibility. You cannot make decisions for the other person or determine how they will live—that is their personal responsibility. Let the other person take their responsibility and you take your responsibility.


Responding with grace in the midst of troubled family relationships will change, filling you with greater character and personal strength. It will change your relationship as well, filling it with greater joy and intimacy.

Finish Your Family Business

“Shave and a haircut, two….” I hate it when things are left unfinished. Anything left unfinished sticks with us; we long for someone to finish it. “A, B, C, D, E, F….” Feel that desire to finish Unfinished bridgeit? You may have already finished both of these unfinished phrases already. Chances are you will finish each of the following phrases before you can even stop yourself:

  • “Think outside the ….”
  • “Subway, Eat….”
  • “Tomorrow, tomorrow. I’ll love you….”
  • “Silly Rabbit, Trix are for….”
  • “Toto, we’re not in….”
  • “Elementary, my dear….”


We could list more, but I need to finish this blog. Unfinished business sticks in our craw; it keeps us on edge. Unfinished things are not forgotten. They roll around somewhere in our mind consuming our mental energy. Psychologists call this the Zeigarnik effect. Bluma Zeigarnik studied this tendency to remember unfinished business after noticing waiters recalled unpaid orders better than orders already paid for. In further studies, she found that participants completing simple tasks in a lab were about twice as likely to remember interrupted, unfinished tasks than a completed task.


Families are filled with unfinished business. Some good…most I’d like to forget. Our spouse, our parents, or even our kids might do something that hurts our feelings, offends our sensibilities, or just makes us angry. If we do not find a way to resolve that offense, it will stick in our craw. It will keep us on edge. That unresolved offense will just roll around in our mind, bump up against all our thoughts, and suck up our energy and joy. It will continue to rob us of happiness and intimacy until we find a way to resolve it—finish it, pack it up, and remove it. That’s the Zeigarnik effect, the tendency to remember unfinished business until it is completed.


So, for the sake of your happiness and your family intimacy, finish the unfinished business of hurt feelings, offended sensibilities, and anger. Practice forgiveness and teach your kids to do the same! Forgiveness does not forget or excuse the behavior that offended you. It simply allows you to think about the incident objectively, counts the cost of the offense, and then graciously release the desire for revenge. It catches the ruminating thoughts of revenge and transforms them from bitterness to compassion. It helps you recall the positive characteristics you have witnessed from the offender on other occasions. Ultimately, forgiveness allows you to let the offense go and finish the unfinished offense. It allows you to regain the freedom to live your life well, to finish with grace.


Don’t let your life get stuck in an unfinished merry-go-round of anger and bitterness that robs you of intimacy and joy. Take a lesson from Zeigarnik, finish the offensive business…forgive! Your family will love you for it.

A Great Way to Win an Argument

If you have been married for any length of time, you know that arguments happen. If you have ever parented a teen, you definitely know that arguments happen. And arguments kids arguing 5 and 6 years oldescalate. Each person conspires to make the other person understand “what I’m saying.” Defensiveness increases. Voices get louder. Heart rates begin to increase. Breathing accelerates. Many people find their jaw tightening. Other body muscles begin to tighten. Each person becomes determined to prove “my position” and “defeat” the other person’s position. In other words, the argument is no longer about resolution. The body has moved into a fight or flight response. Each person is either looking to fight and win or shut down and escape. Neither choice helps resolve the disagreement. But, there is a way to win this argument. That’s right. Here is a technique you can use to win an argument, even after it has gotten to the level of “fight or flight.” This solution will sound counterintuitive, but it is the best move to make. The move…? Take a thirty minute break! I told you it sounds counterintuitive. But, it is true. The best way to resolve the disagreement and win the argument is to take a break. Dr. John Gottman wrote about this idea in his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. “In one of my experiments,” he noted, “we interrupted couples after 15 minutes [of arguing] and told them we needed to adjust the equipment. We asked them not to talk about their issue, but just to read magazines for half an hour. When they started talking about their issue again, their heart rates were significantly lower and their interaction more productive.” In other words, a thirty minute break in which both parties focused on something other than the argument, helped them calm down. Their heart rate returned to normal. Their breathing returned to normal. The stress hormones pulsing through their veins decreased. As a result, they could think more clearly. It was no longer about survival. It was about resolution. They could think about their partner and what was best for their relationship instead of focusing on defending themselves. They could listen better…and understand. So, next time you find yourself in an argument with a family member that seems like it is going nowhere, take a break. In fact, take a thirty minute break and focus on something else. Then, come back, discuss the disagreement, and search for a resolution.

Quit Taking Your Spouse’s Perspective

Who should you think about during an argument with your spouse—me, you, I, us??? That is a good question. We have probably all heard the advice to step back and see our spouse’s Pointing fingers at each otherpoint of view during an argument. This common wisdom advises us to see things through the other person’s eyes and walk a mile in his or her shoes. When you do, the advice-giver explains, you will feel less upset. Your understanding will improve. You will more quickly resolve the conflict…so the advice goes.  However, recent research suggests this folk wisdom may be wrong! In fact, a study of 111 couples found that taking the other person’s perspective actually made things worse, especially for those with a “less-than-positive sense of self-worth.” Now, let’s face it…in the midst of a fight with our spouse you can bet that at least one person is experiencing a “less-than-positive sense of self-worth.” Anyway, it seems that when a person looks at the conflict from his spouse’s perspective, he begins to wonder what they are thinking or feeling about him. In other words, when I look through my spouse’s eyes I see myself…and begin to wonder what she is thinking about me in the midst of the conflict. Thoughts I imagine my spouse having about me take up my mental energy and focus. “She’s blaming me!” “He thinks I don’t care.” “She’s angry about my work.” “She doesn’t believe I’m trying my hardest.” These thoughts and thoughts like them increase our self-doubt and decrease our sense of self-worth. When the argument is over, the person who looked at things through his spouse’s eyes feels even less satisfied and more insecure in their relationship.


Instead of trying to see the conflict from your spouse’s point of view, take a more objective approach with these two suggestions.

  1. Imagine how you would feel in a similar situation. This is different than seeing things from your spouse’s perspective. Rather than imagining how your spouse feels or how your spouse thinks about this conflict, imagine how you would feel in a similar situation. Couples who did this showed an increase in empathy.
  2. Put on your Sherlock Holmes’s hat and get curious about your spouse. Observe your spouse’s behavior. Take the time to notice how your words, actions, and tone of voice impact them. Respectfully and lovingly modify your words and actions to elicit the most helpful response in the situation.  In other words, discuss the difficult issue using a tone of voice that will help your spouse to stay calm and words more likely to elicit a calm response. Go ahead and disagree, but use respectful words and end with a hug. You get the idea. Observe your spouse’s reaction to you and adjust your behavior accordingly.


Forget the folk wisdom…quit taking your spouse’s perspective. Take an objective view. Watch your spouse and work to soothe them as you imagine what you might feel in the same situation…and enjoy a “satisfying” argument.

Sibling Rivalry–The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Siblings argue. They have disagreements that escalate to yelling and screaming…maybe even name calling, pushing, and physical aggression. Not all sibling rivalry is bad. Some of it is good…and some is downright ugly. Take a moment to consider the good, the bad, and the ugly of sibling rivalry.

kids arguing 5 and 6 years old

Some sibling rivalry is good. As long as the argument gets resolved and the conflict does not become abusive, sibling rivalry, competition, arguments, and even minor fights can result in positive growth…especially with adult coaching. Consider some of these areas of potential growth:

  • Sibling rivalry and conflict can increase children’s self-control. In the midst of anger and frustration, siblings can learn to stay calm or walk away rather than hit and scream.
  • Sibling rivalry increases effective emotional expression. Siblings learn how to express their emotions in a way that increases the chance of being heard during a conflict.
  • Sibling rivalry teaches conflict resolution skills like listening, negotiation, and compromise.
  • Sibling rivalry accelerates the learning of social understanding—the awareness of other people’s emotions, the ability to “read” another person’s facial expressions, the knowledge of when to quit “pushing” your point and walk away, and the ability to empathize with another person’s point of view.
  • Sibling rivalry provides opportunities to learn positive problem-solving skills, skills that can lead to a “win-win” for each person involved.
  • Sibling rivalry also teaches that a person does not always get their way. As much as I hate to admit it, life is not fair. Parents strive to find fairness for their children, but sometimes it just does not happen. Sibling rivalry is one way in which children learn to cope with the minor breeches in fairness they will experience throughout life.


Sibling rivalry can, however, escalate to the bad category. Once sibling rivalry escalates, parents may need to become involved and teach their children the skills necessary to resolve the conflict.

  • Sibling rivalry becomes bad when the loud, intrusive, and inappropriate behavior of children in the midst of conflict begins to interfere with other people’s life or experience. For instance, children’s behavior in the midst of conflict may interfere with a parent’s desire for peace and calm in a house…or exacerbate an already aching head…or interfere with a parent’s need to complete some task. In public, sibling rivalry may create discomfort for the family or other people in close vicinity to the conflict. You can see this happen in restaurants or parks when siblings engage in loud and intrusive conflict. Public episodes of sibling rivalry can build a reputation of disrespect, selfishness, or poor emotional control. A parent can respond to public incidents of sibling rivalry by removing their children from the public forum and taking them to a more private setting. In addition, parents need to take the time to teach their children to remain aware of those around them and to consider the impact their behavior has on those around them.
  • Sibling rivalry also moves into the bad category when siblings get stuck in the same argument over and over with no apparent resolution. Parents can step into these situations and teach their children problem solving skills. Help the children learn to calm themselves, listen to one another, actively seek to understand each other, identify each other’s needs, and brainstorm mutually acceptable solutions.


Finally, sibling rivalry can get ugly. Parents must step in for the safety of the children involved.

  • Sibling rivalry gets ugly when it escalates to physical or verbal violence. When either sibling becomes abusive of the other, parents must get involved. To assure that all involved parties are safe, the parent may have to separate the siblings and allow them a “cooling off” period. After the siblings have cooled off, parents can bring them together and help them work to resolve the conflict. In addition, parents can set up some basic ground rules for all conflict–guidelines like no name-calling, no physical aggression, and a “hands-off” policy. Guidelines may also include knowing when to walk away and allow one another to calm down.


Sibling rivalry—the good, the bad and the ugly. A parent’s job is to keep sibling rivalry in the realm of “the good” as much as possible. A parent who does this will eventually enjoy the benefits of children who know how to resolve conflict, listen, negotiate, and compromise.

3 Steps to Sweet Complaining

Person Annoyed by Others TalkingIt had been a long day. I came home from work exhausted and the moment I walked in the door–BOOM—my spouse bombarded me with questions: “Did you put the concert in your calendar?” “Do you know where that receipt is?” “School’s cancelled tomorrow. Will you be home?” “Kaitlyn got invited to….” My head began to spin and I began to hear the sounds adults make on Charlie Brown…”Blah, blah-blah blah, blah.” I had a little question of my own to answer: How do I escape? I wanted to scream…or turn around and walk back out the door to get a breather…or go into the bathroom and “pretend to be occupied by the call of nature.” I don’t know…I had to do something though!


Have you ever run into a situation like that, a situation in which you have a legitimate complaint but you don’t know how to address it? We all have. I watched “Saving Mr. Banks” recently (an excellent movie, by the way) and was reminded of an excellent solution. Mary Poppins gives the solution when she sings “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down…in the most delightful way.” Complaints, like many medicines, have a bitter taste to the one receiving it. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth, elicits defensiveness, and can make a person feel unappreciated. The residual bad taste, feelings of defensiveness, and a feeling of being unappreciated make it difficult for the person receiving the complaint to hear it or understand it. Instead, they might feel hurt or angry. You can avoid this by offering the complaint in “a spoonful of sugar!” Here is how to do it.


First, step back for a moment and think about the other person’s intent. What are they trying to accomplish with the behavior that you want to complain about? What contributes to their action? In my example, my wife is an incredible planner and organizer. Without her planning I would not get near as much done as I do and our family would miss out on so many opportunities. The positive intention of her behavior is making sure our family is on the same page, that I do not miss any important events, and the each person’s needs are met.


Second, appreciate and admire that intention. Take a moment to realize the benefit of the other person’s work. Allow it soak in. admire that person for their desire to bring something good and positive into your life. In my example, I can appreciate how smoothly our family functions and how many activities and opportunities we engaged in because of my wife’s planning. I can admire her for her selfless work in making our family life better.


African American Couple Laughing On The FloorThird, tell the other person. Tell them how much you admire and appreciate them (step two). Then, convert your complaint into a simple statement of need.  Explain in one statement what your family member can do to help you. A practical example from my situation…”I really appreciate how you keep things organized for our family. In fact, I am amazed at how much we are able to do because of your efforts and how much you accomplish. One of the things I love about you is your ability to organize and how you use that ability to help our family do so many fun things. And, I am glad to answer questions. But, when I come home could we postpone the questions until we greet each other and have 10-15 minutes of down time and small talk?” There it is, a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down…in the most delightful way.


Quit complaining. Offer your legitimate concerns with a spoonful of sugar. A little love and admiration and a practical statement helps a concern “go down…in the most delightful way.”

4 Ingredients for a Happy Family

I discovered a new recipe for Happy Family. No, I’m not talking about the Chinese dish, although I would enjoy Happy Family for dinner tonight (click here for a recipe for the “edible happy family”)…well, both the dish and the family come to think of it. Anyway, I am talking about a simple way you can turn your family into a happy family. This recipe works especially well in the heat of conflict. 


First, realize that conflict is often too hot to handle. Cool it down with a neutralizer. State what has upset you in as neutral a tone as possible. To help you stay neutral, avoid statements beginning with “you.” Making comments like “You drive me crazy,” “You always mess things up,” “You’re so stupid,” or “You make me so mad…” only adds heat to the recipe, threatens to scorch the relationship and burn your family. Instead, turn down the heat by making more neutral comments. Start these comments with an “I” instead of a “you” and simply state how you feel in this specific situation in as neutral a tone as possible.  “I’m really upset right now,” “I am worried that this will end badly,” “I am hurt by that statement,” and similar statements will go a long way in keeping the heat of conflict to a moderate level. And, in all reality, these comments speak the truth more accurately. They truthfully express how you feel rather than making assumptive statements that exaggerate the other person’s faults.


Second, replace your complaint or criticism with a positive action the other person can take to help. Rather than throwing bitter blame, sour complaints, or overly-spicy name-calling into the recipe mix, state what positive thing your family can do to help. State what you want rather than what you don’t want. Stating your “positive need” (what you do want) infuses a solution into the recipe mix and adds the sweet opportunity for an expression of love. And, as John Gottman says, “Stating your positive need is a recipe for success.”


Third, add listening to the recipe as a stabilizer. Without stabilizing the family in the midst of conflict, those involved will “weep” and separate. Listening acts as a stabilizer, binding us to one another and helping all the ingredients, including the people, stick together. Listen carefully and non-defensively with the goal of understanding the other person’s emotions and pain.


Finally, add the calming sweetener of empathy. As you listen non-defensively, summarize your partner’s point of view. Validate the other person by repeating the meaning of what they have said and labeling the emotion behind what they have said. Summarize their perspective with a simple sentence or two.


Combine these 4 ingredients over the heat of conflict, mix gently, and you will enjoy a Happy Family. You know, I got a little hungry writing this. I think I’ll go practice these 4 ingredients with my wife. Then, we can work together on the recipe for the Happy Family dish. Tonight, we can sit down as a Happy Family for a serving of Happy Family. Sounds like a happy time.

3 Tips to Nurture an Amazing Family Panacea

After years in the family lab (aka—my home and family) and conducting research (my kids say I “experiment” with them, but I really don’t “experiment”…I just try different things) on the many factors involved in family happiness (learning from my multiple mistakes), I have finally discovered a miracle cure for many family ails. That’s right, a single practice that can increase family energy and enhance optimism. It will also increase the social connections among family members and decrease conflict. This single practice can even build happiness while decreasing depression, envy, greed, and materialism. Even more, research has shown this practice to help people sleep more soundly, take better care of themselves, and resist viral infections better. In children, research has shown that engaging in this family panacea leads to better grades, fewer complaints of headaches and stomach aches, and better relationships with family and friends. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? However, I have experienced the effectiveness of this attitude in action in my own life and family. Maybe you have already figured out what I’m talking about…gratitude. That’s right: gratitude can do all this for you and your family (read more here or here). So, follow this simple 3-step prescription to build gratitude into your family life.

      ·    Model gratitude in your daily life. Thank your children and spouse for things they do. Thank your neighbors. Make it a point to thank the family cook, the person who washes the clothes, and the one who took out the garbage…. Thank the checkout clerks when you shop and the wait-staff when you eat out. Model an attitude of gratitude for your family to see.

·    Create a gratitude journal or a gratitude wall. Each night before bed, let each family member list three things for which they are grateful. List them in a family gratitude journal or write them on strips of paper to build your gratitude wall. If you do not like the idea of a journal or a gratitude wall, use your imagination to create a gratitude bank, a gratitude flower garden (on the fridge), or a gratitude house. Whatever you choose, take the opportunity for each family member to share what has made them grateful each day.

·    Make a gratitude visit. Think of people who have influenced your family in a positive way. As a family, talk about how they have helped you and for what you would like to thank them. Then, buy them a small gift to represent our gratitude and arrange a time to visit with them. During your visit, give them the gift you bought and explain how they have influenced your family. In the midst of the visit, remember to verbally tell them “thank you.”

Perhaps you have more ideas for building gratitude in your family. Maybe you even have a special ritual, routine, or practice you use to instill gratitude in family members. Please share those ideas with us in the comment section below. We will all benefit as we nurture an attitude of gratitude in our families.

Time to Mow the Lawn…Again

Winter has finally ended and spring has sprung. I know because my grass is now green and growing fast. I have to warm up the lawn mower and get chopping today. Many of my neighbors have already cut their lawns. Their lawns look so nice, neatly trimmed, green, no weeds. Then there is my lawn–scraggly, dandelion ridden, little piles that remind me that deer visit our yard often. The grass always looks greener at my neighbor’s house…
Have you ever thought that about your family? “My friend’s family always seem to smile. I wish…” “They have so much fun together. I wish…” “See how his children always talk to him? I wish…” “They seem so happy. I wish…” I have a little revelation to make. It’s nothing new and I’m sure you have heard it before. It is true when it comes to our lawns; and, it is true when it comes to our families. The grass is always greener where you water it. My neighbor’s lawn looks nicer than mine because he has cared for it this week. Maybe mine will look better after a little work, too. And, if my neighbor’s family looks better than mine, it is probably because of the effort invested in creating a healthy family. With that in mind, here are three things you can do to water the lawn of your own family.
     ·         Make your family grass greener by spending time together. Have fun. Play games. Sit down for dinner. Engage in conversation. Go someplace together. Whenever we spend time with family we build stronger bonds. The green grass of intimacy grows stronger, deeper roots. Individual blades of grass can reach out and nurture the others, strengthening one another and holding one another up. Spending time together waters the green grass of healthy family.

·         Fertilize your family with words of kindness and encouragement. Nothing will make a lawn greener and healthier than good fertilizer. For the family, that fertilizer comes in the form of words. Fertilize generously with “thank you,” “please,” and other polite statements as well as words of support and encouragement.

·         Pull the weeds out of your family. Weeds will pop up and now and again…and again and again. Weeds like anger, arguments, disagreements, distractions, or even selfishness may spring up when a family member is tired, hungry, worried…or maybe out of nowhere. To have a healthy family, we need to pull these weeds out of the family. We pull these weeds by learning to disagree in a healthy way, seeking forgiveness when we hurt another family member, offering forgiveness when family members hurt us, and learning to argue in a respectful way. Learn to identify the weeds and pull them out of your family with care and diligence.
After watering my lawn and investing time in nurturing a healthy lawn, I like to enjoy it. I can sit outside with my family and enjoy the beauty of the lawn. Even more, my family and I can play in the soft, lush grass of a healthy lawn. The same is true of family. As you invest in watering and nurturing a healthy family, you can enjoy the results. You can enjoy playful interaction with your family as well as intimate times of conversation. A family watered well with time, fertilized with words of kindness and encouragement, and cleared of weeds is a beautiful sight, a place of respite and love. I pray you will know the joys of the “greener grass of your watered lawn.”

Count It All Joy When Siblings Fight…

Sometimes it drives me crazy to hear my kids fighting (btw—my family says that crazy is only a putt away for me, not a drive). At any rate, I hear one daughter yelling at the other and the other daughter forcefully (albeit quietly) stating her case. It is enough to promote loss of hair. But, sibling rivalry really can produce several positive outcomes. That’s right; sibling disagreements, arguments, and competitions are actually good! Of course I am not talking about out and out, drag down, sock ’em in the nose, hair pulling battles. We don’t want anyone getting hurt here. However, disagreements, arguments, and even some verbal sparring can produce positive results for our children. Here are just a few:
     ·         Sibling rivalry provides the opportunity for our children to practice negotiation skills. They learn to make their point in a convincing and effective manner. They learn that one’s tone of voice can lead to more or less cooperation and certain words or phrases can increase or decrease cooperation. Siblings in the midst of an argument can learn that listening strengthens one’s stance for negotiation. Sibling rivalry helps each person learn how to disagree and promote a point in a way that can achieve the best result.

·         Sibling rivalry provides the opportunity to learn about compromise. Through sibling conflict, siblings learn the art of compromise as well has how to show the honor and grace inherent in compromise.

·         Sibling rivalry builds competence in problem-solving, both as an individual and as part of a group. Whether a person learns how to compromise, how to negotiate, or how to make a strong point, problem-solving skills grow stronger. All parties learn to work out their differences and reach some level of resolution, even if that means agreeing to disagree and learning how to do that.

·         Sibling rivalry helps define individual identities. Each child has to find their place in the family–their role, their purpose, their identity. Sibling rivalry helps each child do that.

·         Ironically, sibling rivalry actually helps to build family cohesiveness. As siblings argue and compete, they learn about one another. They learn to appreciate one another’s strengths and abilities. As siblings learn to negotiate and compromise, they come to respect one another and look out for one another’s interests. When siblings learn to share honor and grace even amidst the rivalry, they learn to love one another more deeply. All of this helps to build family cohesiveness and intimacy.
Count it all joy when siblings disagree, argue, compete and engage in all sorts of rivalry…well, maybe I’m stretching too far there; but, here are three ways parents can influence sibling rivalry for the best.
     ·         Model healthy rivalry in your own relationships. When you have a disagreement with your spouse, model honor and grace. When you argue with your spouse or a friend, let your children observe how carefully you listen before speaking. Model speech and action during conflict with your children that reveal humility on your part as you work toward resolution.

·         Coach your children in the art of disagreement and rivalry. Offer suggestions on how to phrase things in a more honorable manner. Give hints on how speech can influence resolution. Teach your children how listening can increase our understanding of the other person and the problem, leading to a better compromise.

·         Acknowledge each of your children’s strengths and abilities. Do not compare children with one another. Instead, encourage their different interests and abilities. Let each of your children know that they hold a special value in your eyes, a value based on their specific person. This can help limit their need to compete for your attention or for their place in the family. Instead, each will know they hold a special place already.
So, are you ready to ruummmmble? No, just joking. No rumbling please. But, a little bit of sibling rivalry can go a long way in producing mature children, especially when parents model and coach positive conflict skills while acknowledging each child’s individual strengths.
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