One of my greatest priorities is to provide my children with the ability to resolve conflict with others. Kids aren't born knowing how to handle situations, we all must learn the techniques to bring resolution.
I think one of this biggest problems that we as parents face in our day to day parenting is the dreaded "Tattling!" It it often seems like it is more of an instinctive trait... as oppose to a learned behavior.
It is tempting for us parents to intervene and problem solve for our children but this doesn't teach our little ones to be able to resolve the inevitable conflicts that are lurking in their futures. If we don't equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to work through disputes than we are disabling them to stand on their own in the face of trouble.
You could say that I have my own little focus group in my house, which makes it ideal for testing and trying out techniques for child rearing! There are plenty of opportunities in our home for children to practice self control and conflict resolution....but first I must teach it.
So here is the method that seems to be working amazingly well with our five little blessings. However, it could work with any number of children, whether you have one or twenty.
"Talk or Tell" has revolutionized the way my children deal with each other and their disputes.
What is it:
Tell, (a.k.a) Tattling: Seeking an adult with the goal of getting another child in trouble. However, telling has one exception..... Seeking an adult with the goal of keeping yourself or another child safe.
Talk: This is the act of handling a situation by talking it over with the person offending you or disobeying the rules. For example: "Bob you know that I don't like it when you hit me, it hurts and doesn't make me want to play with you." or "Sally you know mama told us not to eat a snack before dinner."
How to apply it:
First, define the difference between tell/tattling on someone and talking with someone.
Next, spend time working through scenarios of when to Tell and when to Talk, make it a fun game and give them lots of chances to practice the appropriate responses.
Tattling is an easy concept for little ones to understand, the usually pick it up quickly and on their own....lol! Talking on the other hand takes some practice to learn how to do it correctly, which is especially important for our children as they get older.
Talking requires you to care about the other person and their well being and having a desire for them to avoid bringing consequences upon themselves. When we practice "Talk" scenarios we also discuss consequences of our actions when one refuses to listen to the voice of reason. I teach my children that if the person you are trying to "Talk" with doesn't heed your wisdom then remove yourself from the situation and let them accept their consequences (this is not a chance for you to tattle). It only takes a few times of receiving consequences for them to realize that taking the advice would have been the better choice.
When my children come to me with the News Reporter Look on their face I simply say....Tell or Talk? Their look quickly changes to one of deep thought. Usually, they respond with, "Hum, never mind."
The Telling Consequence:
Well, every good method must have it's motivation! I make sure that whenever I hear them using the "Talk" approach I praise them.....I praise them in front of each other.....I praise them to their daddy, and I praise them in front of family and friends. Praise goes a long, long way, which isn't surprising it's the best motivation for all of us!!
However, on occasion you will have a News Reporter that just can't help themselves. If someone tattles on another person......well then both the Teller and the Tell'e receive a consequence. Yup, this motivates all parties to either, not commit offenses or to quickly encourage each other to resolve the conflict on their own.... without ME (the Consequence Giver).
We have a consequence chart on our wall, which is kept in a highly visible place where the kids can get to it. If they receive a consequence than they must take a yellow strip out of the little blue folder and put it in their pocket. Each strip has a household chore written on the back (these are not their regular chore) Their conssequence remains a mistery until the end of the day when it is time to "pay the piper"...lol (this cuts down on all day pouting about their new chore). Really, it's a win-win for all of us! They learn valuable lessons and I get much needed extra help around the house.
Since my ultimate goal is to TEACH them, I use a discipline approach to change the undesirable behavior.
*discipline- the act of teaching appropriate behavior given along side of a consequence
*punishment- consequence without correction
It is essential for the "News Reporter" and I discuss the proper way to handle the situation, so each mistake becomes an opportunity to learn how to succeed. We then go and find the Tellie so that we can have a " DO OVER". The two practice the correct responses using our "Talk" method, we also discuss how we could have avoided the problem in the first place.
It is extremely important to be patient and willing to teach our children, so that they will be better equipped adults.... which is our ultimate goal!! Kids aren't going to get this right every time....lets face it most of us adults still struggle with proper conflict resolution.
I would love to hear if you tried this method and if it worked for your family. Please feel free to share methods that you use that work for your family, after all it takes a village and we are all in this together!
Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.
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