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SALT LAKE CITY — Life is a complicated and messy endeavor. Life Coach Kim Giles is here to help you with simple, principle-based solutions to the challenges you face. Coach Kim will empower you to get along with others and become the best you.
We have issues with fighting in our family. My two kids fight over every toy and every device in the house, and to be honest my husband and I fight over a lot of small things, too. Even making simple decisions we usually disagree. Do you have any advice in those moments of conflict? How can we settle these issues and stop the fighting?
Here are some creative ways to handle these conflicts.
In basketball, what happens when two players start fighting over a ball they both have their hands on? The referee will usually call a jump ball.
Different leagues have different policies on how to handle a jump ball. Some have the ref toss the ball between the two players, who both try to jump up and tip it. This approach basically lets luck decide it. Other leagues use a taking turns approach. The first jump ball goes to one team, but the next jump ball will automatically go to the other, and so on.
I recommend this same approach to couples and children when they fight over small things — but you must decide ahead of time, together, what your jump ball policy will be. You can take turns getting your way or you can let luck decide it.
If you agree to let luck decide these conflicts, you might agree to flip a coin and whoever loses must accept the coin's decision and honor it. If you take turns, then whoever lost last time gets to win this time. My grandparents used to play a game of cards and the winner would get their choice.
As long as you agree ahead of time what constitutes a jump ball situation, what your approach will be, and you both promise to honor it, these techniques work great for petty disagreements.
Big ticket purchases or more serious disagreements should be handled together, as a team, with a mutually validating conversation.
Children and adults both benefit from learning how to resolve conflicts and communicate in a respectful way. Below are some ideas that might help improve everyone's conflict resolution skills:
- Sometimes everyone needs a little time to cool down before they are ready to talk about an issue calmly and respectfully (this goes for adults, too). Have a time-out rule in place, where both parties go to their corners and cool off before they talk.
- Work on your negotiation skills and teach them to your children. The key to negotiation is to creating win/wins, where everyone gives a little and everyone gets a little. I remember a trick my mother used when two of us were fighting over a doughnut. One kid would cut it, but the other would pick which piece he wanted first. This guaranteed the one cutting would make the two pieces equal.
- Teach them how to empathize with the other person's feelings and to express and correctly label their own feelings. It serves children and adults to recognize when anger is really fear of loss or selfishness is really the need to feel more important than the other person. Help them develop the vocabulary to accurately express what they are feeling.
- Set down clearly-defined ground rules for resolving conflicts in your home and review them often. In our home we have a no physical violence policy; we never hurt another person no matter what. We also have an official procedure for solving disagreements. Each person gets a turn to talk about their feelings without being interrupted. (When it is your turn to talk you must use "I" statements, not "you" statements.) Then, we use the following problem solving technique to find the best solution.
- Brainstorm together as many possible solutions as you can. Think outside the box and find creative ways to create win/wins. This is a great solution-focused technique for any problem. Once you have a long list of possible solutions, the problem always feels easier to solve. The most important thing parents can do to teach good conflict resolution skills is to stay calm and model mature behavior themselves.
If you have issues with losing your temper or getting defensive, you may want to get some professional help. A coach or counselor can help you understand and deal with your feelings and respond more appropriately.
You can do this.
*Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of ldslifecoaching.com and claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.**
*Kimberly Giles gives her advice in the "LIFEadvice" series every Monday on ksl.com. She is the president of Claritypoint Life Coaching and a sought-after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing self-esteem. Listen to her Self Esteem CPR Workshop at www.claritypointcoaching.com.**