Every day we talk to parents and grandparents who are dealing with conflict with their kids and grandkids. Conflict is a natural part of life, but when priorities clash, relationships can go on the skids. Some conflicts have been building for years by the time we are involved. Parents and grandparents who have a child's best school success in mind sometimes experience even deeper conflict as school problems worsen. Some of these issues are not a child's fault and are actually caused by undiagnosed vision problems. Once these issues are identified, the journey can still be a long one. We've put together six tips for conflict resolution so you can handle conflict more productively and transform those win/lose battles into win/win situations.
Become a Listener
One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to learn to listen. Parents are often so busy trying to meet all their obligations that they forget that their child has a voice and he deserves to be heard. Learning to stop and listen to what your child is trying to tell you will go a long way towards solving conflicts. When children feel listened to, they are more likely to listen to to you too. That means that both of you get a better understanding of the problem at hand. It makes finding a solution easier.
Let your child speak without interruptions. You may think you know what he is going to say, but unless you listen you will not know for sure. Give your child the opportunity to explain his side of the story.
If you do not understand your child's reasoning, ask him to explain. When questions don't work, just try, "Tell me more about...".
Your child's reasoning may sound silly to you, but avoid judging him. If he has misconceptions, go ahead and explain, but avoid telling your child his ideas or feelings are silly or unimportant.
If you are like most parents you have probably caught yourself saying no when you could easily say yes. By slowing down and taking a moment to consider the request before responding you can evaluate the situation on its own merits instead of reacting from the gut. Consider the consequences of the activity or request and evaluate whether there is really any reason to say no. If your little one wants to finger paint in the dining room or play with blocks in the kitchen, telling him no may just be an automatic response. Consider putting down a protective cloth or limiting him to one corner of the kitchen instead of banishing him to a different play area. By slowing down you can consider the needs of both your child's needs and your own.
Change Your Perspective
Practice thinking like a child and seeing the world through his eyes. Most conflict occurs due to a lack of understanding of the needs and desires of the other person. When it comes to small children, expecting them to see the world through your eyes probably isn't realistic, but you can see it through their eyes without too much difficulty. Draw on your own experience as a child to help you. Chances are you will discover that when your little one begs to play blocks in the kitchen he isn't being difficult, he just wants to be closer to you while he plays. Knowing this puts you in charge of offering alternate activities that will serve the same purpose. You may want to limit block play to a corner of the kitchen or suggest another kitchen activity he can do while you work.
We appreciate the parents and grandparents who work hard to tackle responsibility for glasses, contacts or vision therapy sessions. Our goal is to improve lives through vision and we're here to help you every step of the way. Contact us with any questions you have about conflict that arises due to learning or school-related activity. If you're curious if your child has an undiagnosed vision issue which is creating greater conflict, take the quiz and get some answers.