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As children grow up they develop physically, mentally and emotionally. Part of this development is learning how to cope when things don’t go their way and developing tactics to avoid escalating arguments.
It’s not all plain sailing and children can often find it difficult to back down or walk away. Some children struggle with sharing whilst others find it difficult to be assertive.
Here’s some great tips on teaching your kids skills that’ll last them a lifetime:
It’s hard to watch as your child wilts under the pressure of more dominant characters. You might feel tempted to help them out, but what they really need is to learn how to hold their own.
Assertiveness is a key skill for kids to develop. It’ll help them to stand up for themselves, or others, in a calm and positive way. This isn’t to be confused with aggression - which is actually the opposite reaction!
Respect and praise your child’s assertions. Even if their assertion is unreasonable or impossible, acknowledge this and explain to them why this won’t work. Also, respect their boundaries. This will build trust in you and eventually confidence in themselves.
Encourage them to express their feelings. If they feel comfortable telling you how they feel without getting flustered or feeling negatively judged they’ll learn to communicate more confidently in other situations.
Let them make decisions: OK, lets be sensible. These need to be age appropriate decisions! Toddlers could choose their own clothes, primary schoolers could decide what activity to do at the weekend and teenagers can decide what they want to study. The key to this is that they also have to take responsibility for their mistakes!
Kids need to learn how to settle differences and land the best outcome. To achieve the best results, children need to understand principles of fairness and mutual benefit.
Successful negotiating skills requires compromise and empathy. Two quite sophisticated traits which certainly don’t come naturally to many.
Have a conversation around requests. Ask them to explain why what they want is reasonable rather than flatly refusing. This might not always work for them, but will teach them how to position requests - and when they might be fighting a losing battle too!
Explore alternatives. It is likely that many of their initial requests won’t be granted (‘Can I have ice cream for breakfast?’) but teach them to accept this and think about a compromise. What might be the next best thing that will be possible so they don’t miss out entirely… An ice cream after lunch might be reasonable!
Win-Win. Ask them to think about how both people could get what they want out of the situation. How might it work well for both of you? If everyone’s happy with the solution, you’ll have a super negotiator on your hands!
These are great skills for everyone to have. If you can start teaching your kids these early on, they really will have a head start!
Why not also read about teaching your child conflict resolution?