Do you have a child that likes to dominate or take control, where other siblings feel victimised or regularly not valued? It’s tough to watch our children experience this treatment or behaviour. As a parent, we experience the tension of struggling with our emotions and keeping us under control whilst resisting the urge to jump in and solve the problem. Allowing our children to own and solve their problems builds resilience and increases their self- esteem.

When your child is complaining about a sibling’s action or behaviour – What can you do to empower them to solve their own problems?

  1. Give empathy- Boy, I would find that sad too, or that’s sad I wouldn’t like that, that’s tough. (whatever statement would work so the child feels heard and understood.)
  2. Hand the problem back to them-What do you think you are going to do, or what do you need?
  3. Ask permission- Would you like some ideas?
  4. Give a menu of options- Some kids decide…….. and how would that work out for you? Give 2 or 3 ideas and ask after each one, how would that work out.
  5. Reinforce, if anyone can work this through I know you can, let me know how it works.

Our Story:

My son was being teased by his big sister and experienced some pushing. Feeling the injustice of her actions, he demanded that I go and fix it a by telling his sister off and give her a consequence.

  1. I resisted the urge to solve the problem and responded with “That’s tough, I would be very angry if someone did that to me. I understand how sad that would be.” I could see that he felt the empathy.
  2. I then asked “what do you want to do”, and was answered with I want you to go tell her off and give her a consequence. In response, I reflected that it must hurt you when your sister treats you like this. What do you need? His conversation exposed his hurt and uncovered that he needed his sister to give him his ball back and to play kindly.
  3. I inquired if he would like some ideas?
  4. With his permission, I gave him 3 ideas of what some kids decide. i) Some kids might scream in an angry voice and demand the ball, ii) Some kids might calm down and be strong and confident in asking for the ball, and play with someone else or iii) explain that you would be happy to play together with her when she could be kind and share the ball. After each one I enquired how would that work out for you?
  5. I shared with him, if anyone can work this out, I know you can. With restored confidence, he ran outside and asked his sister for the ball and stated that he was willing to play with her if she was willing to be kind. It was fun watching them play and enjoy each other’s company. On many occasions, my son has listened to the menu of ideas offered, and has come up with some of his own great creative ideas.

How would you like to experiment with these tools over the next week, eliminating the stress to solve their problems and experience more fun in connecting?  Let me know your thoughts or comments? Have a great last week of the school holidays.