. Five Rules for Fair Fighting
People fight, children squabble, kids quarrel, and babies just cry. Oh, if we could remove conflict from our homes! But it is there, popping up at the most unexpected times to eliminate peace from our lives.
And so, because it is likely that a couple of fights will blow up soon, may I suggest five rules to teach your family members so they can fight fairly. (This is just a fancy way of setting some definitive boundaries so the noise will be contained, the Bandaids will last a bit longer, and peace can be restored in a relatively short time.) If you teach your family members how to resolve conflicts in this way, you will be surprised how much better things will be.
Rule #1. Cool down first. If you are really, really mad, you must have a cool down period first by isolating yourself from the problem. Then, you can invite the other person to a “discussion” of the issues.
Rule #2. Involve a mediator. All “fights” are best regulated by a third party that isn’t emotionally involved and can keep the rules straight. The fighters use this go-between to keep the peace while things are worked out. This usually ends up being Mom, Dad or the babysitter (until children become more proficient at resolving issues alone).
Rule #3. No hitting. If you need to resolve a conflict, you must do it with your mouth, not with your fists. Hitting hurts irreparably. Words can hurt, too, but is the lesser of the two evils.
Rule #4. Talk nicely. If you need to clash with words, you may not use profanity, gutter language, or bathroom words. There is no name calling or sassing. You must also use your “inside” voice. You may only express your “opinion” once. (This saves the “yes it is,” “no it isn’t,” “yes it is” repetition that is so often found in conflict…)
Rule #5. Propose a solution. Conflict is normal. It is the ability to work through conflict, find answers, and still keep peace that is the skill. Get past the conflict and on with the negotiations. What answer will work this time?
As a parent, these five “resolution” rules can prove invaluable when raising children. Any neighborhood kids that became involved with conflict in your home should abide by these rules, too. Five rules, enough for each finger of one hand. Cool down, get a mediator, don’t hit, talk nicely, and propose a solution!
May this skill set help make this summer and all the seasons of your parenting just a little bit easier. Teach them how to resolve conflicts and much of your familial stress will be gone.
Find more helpful ideas in my House of Order Handbook.
Photo from sxc.hu. Used with permission.