As the heat of Summer peaks, so do emotions and conflicts of kids that have been home from school too long and the adults who are in charge of keeping the peace in their households. Between too much idle time and the rising temps, it’s easy for your household to erupt into chaos if you don’t have a few rules and processes to help you manage through the high-conflict moments.
Lisa Mitchell, Communications Expert & Founder of Power Body Language, shares a few tips.
Keep the Peace Tip #1: Take the time to identify the actual problem
When everyone is yelling or complaining, it’s really tempting to just find the quickest route to shut the whole thing down instead of asking questions and really listening to the answer to identify what they actual or perceived problem is. This can make kids feel unheard and can actually escalate the negative emotions and reactions, making things even worse.
Instead of just trying to make the noise stop, ask a question that makes them thoughtfully respond in a specific way about what exactly they are upset about or feeling. A question such as “Can you calmly tell me why you are upset about this?” Or “Can you tell me how you think this could have been handled differently?”
This lets them define the problem or desired outcome from their point of view and then you know what you are actually attempting to solve or deal with instead of guessing what they are actually having the most emotion around. It also let’s them feel heard and that can go a long way towards helping to calm things down.
Keep the Peace Tip #2: Create Space For Kids To Solve Their Own Problem
Sometimes kids just need a little space to think through their emotions and figure out a way to express themselves. Depending on their age, you can give them an “assignment” to tell you about their problem or feelings in way that let’s them have the space they need. For younger kids, you can ask them to draw a picture of how they’re feeling or to write it in a sentence using their words. You can help them by giving them a framework such as “When happens, I feel ________. I would feel better if _______” It’s like emotional Mad Libs and giving them a constructive way to identify their feelings and giving them some time to be thoughtful and reflective can often help resolve the problem just by creating this space.
Keep the Peace Tip #3: Acknowledge the positive
This won’t be the last time there is conflict or strong emotions with your child during the summer break. Acknowledging their efforts to work through the problem and put language to what they’re experiencing is a positive reinforcement tool that will encourage them to use the techniques on their own in future conflicts. Take a moment to recap the process that you used, how them creating space and telling you clearly what the problem was made it easier for you to help them, and that you’re proud of them for finding a solution.
It can be a simple as a single sentence, but the positive reinforcement and acknowledgement can go a long way towards helping them feel seen and heard, and empowered to use these tools going forward and that can equal a more peaceful household.
For more information, visit www.powerbodylanguage.com, or connect with Lisa on Instagram: @lisamitchellindy.