Saturday, 21 May 2016

Dealing with Conflict

Conflict: resolving by evolving.

Now I feel it is fair to disclose I am a red-head. I am full on Irish/Welsh ginger and I grew up around people who yelled  and screamed and threw things.
My wonderful family are not good at conflict. (Hubby's family was sulking, brooding and mean comments).
We still have conflict (because it happens). However I had an attitude shift a few years ago and now I am the peace-maker...I know right?!
So how did I do it/do I do it?

 Apologise (yes even to a child) when I mess up.

Kids do what you do. If you were tired/grumpy/angry at someone else or uncaffinated  you might react differently or not your best self. We mess up. We are people and showing your child how to gracefully, wholeheartedly apologise is important for both of you.

Did you really have a bad day or a bad five minutes you nursed all day?

My family sucks at mornings. Like really sucks and if there is going to be words it happens before 10am. Now this used to "ruin" my day. I like to set up my day with calm and light and peace. My daughter is terrible at mornings. She is just so groggy and falls back asleep very easily. This conflict while my eyes are still adjusting made me feel justified in my "grump" for the rest of the day.
It's just a thing. She doesn't do it deliberately. It is not malicious. It is out of her control. What is in my control is how I react to that. It is something she struggles with and I try my best to approach it kindly, gently and with love. That the first thing she sees or hears from me is something good. If there is conflict that makes me feel out of balance I take the time to find my centre. It was a bad five minutes, not a ruined day.


My mother was a therapist/counsellor and I learned about transactional analysis (TA) when I was about 16. It is a big and complicated idea but the general gist is about how you speak to people will tend to determine how they respond. Or how you respond will change the dynamic of the power in the conversation. There are times as a parent you need to impose your power on a child to make sure they are safe and within the boundaries of expected behaviour. Equally there are times when the child demands need to come before your own. Then there is balance. Speaking to your child as a person, an equal, someone you like and respect. 
When you see conflict it is usually because both parties want to be "in power". The child wants or needs something the parent isn't giving. The parent wants or needs something the child isn't giving. This leads to a fierce battles of wills. It escalates and builds until it explodes.
This is when stepping back or down from the power and treating the child as an adult/equal really helps. You step back into a conversation, rather than a fight. It also encourages the child to calm down too because they are not competing any more. 
When a child wants "things" from chocolate to toys, what they really want is most often your undivided attention. If you calmly give that and talk about it, the thing is always secondary.
Sometimes the child needs to test the boundaries and find out who has the power and that you as a parent are still "the boss". This is normal behaviour as difficult as it can sometimes be. Being comfortable when you have the power, when it is equal and when you don't makes conflict happen much less often and much easier to resolve.

Change direction.

If you are banging your head into a brick wall, stop.
A change is as good as a rest. If nagging, fighting, talking and tears haven't worked, odds are pushing harder isn't going to fix it. I think I suck at maths (I am however amazing with money) so no amount of working at it is going to fix it for me because I am dyscalculic (dyslexic with numbers). I can do basic maths and I understand many of the mathematics concepts I just can't DO them. My daughter is way ahead of me in maths.If I had spent all my time just on maths I would have believed I was the thickest person who lived. Instead I was able to focus on music, dance, painting, singing. I learned a lot about maths from music, weird as that sounds because of the rhythm and tempos. I could feel it in my body.
When we stop pushing so hard in the wrong direction a better direction happens. If it is a struggle change direction. Let it go, if only for a while. I have watch friends who haven't really "deschooledd" fight with their kid all day long. They don't see that in a very real way the child has PTSD. That pushing and pushing for the kid to be x then they are y just damages the kid even more.
Yes sometimes we have to shove them from the nest so they can fly. Yes sometimes we have to show them risk is important, or doing things we might find uncomfortable. Or that hard work has a pay off.
It is the adaptable who survive. Not the strongest, or the smartest, but those who can accept change. 
If the situation isn't changing, change your perspective, try something else.


In ten years time would this fight seem important? How about five years? A year from now? This is it. This is your life and your kid/s childhood. This is what they will remember (in their bones if not their minds) when they wonder if they should call you as an adult. What happens now, today in all the petty conflict, would it matter if they were sick, or dying? Or if you were sick?
As a parent you can't always be a "nice" person (comes with the job) but this childhood is fleeting. It is such a short dream. Do you really want to spend it yelling and fussing? We remember all the bad things said to us and remember only a few of the good things. How many words will be remembered? How much time are you going to invest in conflict, and how much in joy and happiness?
You choose.

Have a laugh

This is the reason I am still married and have not murdered my husband (15 years). Maybe I am sat with candles and incense listening to peaceful music in meditation position and he just comes and starts talking at me (clearly I am doing "nothing") and I get mad enough at him to rip his dumb face off. Then he says something, sometimes even in a silly voice and I am laughing instead of yelling. All that rage gone! Poof! 
If I am struggling I might watch some comedy on Youtube or something. Something to make me laugh. Doing fun and silly stuff is important for adults. A sense of humor can lift you from the depths of self pity and despair. 

Home education is too important to take too seriously.

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