Dr. Randy Carlson
As a parent, you probably feel like you wear a variety of hats.
Sometimes it’s a fedora as you try to be the detective and investigate who did what to whom and why. Other times it’s a helmet as you put out the latest fire ignited by sibling rivalry. Then there’s the referee cap, and the black and white striped uniform to match, as you hear both sides of the arguments and then mediate an agreement everyone can live by.
But perhaps there are times when you shouldn’t blow the whistle, but instead just stand back and see if your children can work out the difference on their own.
I know it’s hard. Like most men, I’m a fixer. I’d see my kids get into a mess and I’d want to make it all right again, as fast as I could. But instead of training my children that they needed a referee, I learned its best to teach them how to referee themselves. I did it through what I call “Active Respect Parenting,” which says:
- When your child is disrespectful, you need to show respect.
- When your child is loud, you need to respond quietly.
- When your child is irrational, you need to respond rationally.
- When your child powers up, you need to power down.
Here are three keys that will help you.
- Encourage your children to talk to each other about the problem. Take the four points of Active Respect Parenting and model them to your kids, helping them power down, respect each other, and respond quietly and rationally to the situation before them.
- Ask, “If you were me, how would you solve this?” Especially for upper-elementary children, this practice of placing themselves in your shoes actually empowers them. They may not always come up with the solution you would, but it gets them looking at the problem in a new way.
- Let them share, and then put into practice, what they’ve worked out. These two steps make them a) speak aloud (and therefore clarify) their solution and b) hold themselves accountable to it. If their solution isn’t completely working, that’s okay. Let them experience the consequence first. Then you’re better positioned to step in and offer the better solution that they’ll now be more likely to accept.
You want nothing less than God’s very best for your child. The biggest challenge parent’s face is that children don’t come with instruction manuals. It takes understanding, planning and some good old-fashioned hard work.
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