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Manage conflicts with your children: Choose your strategy with care

Do you and your children often get into conflicts that end up with one person being the winner and the other the loser? Occasional disputes between parents and children are normal. You ultimately have to choose from four different styles of resolution:

 

• Assert your parental authority. This will allow you to end the argument in your favor, but it’s not always the best choice. Your child will probably resent this tactic and see you as an unfair autocrat. There are times, of course, when you feel your child could be in danger and you have the experience to know better than he or she does. In these cases, asserting your authority is important—when your child refuses to wear his or her seat belt, for example.

 

• Give in to your child’s wishes. Facing the fact that you’re sometimes wrong is perfectly appropriate. Unfair rules undermine your authority. Also, remember to pick your battles carefully, especially when something is trivial to you but really important to your child—like what shoes your child wants to wear to a party.

 

• Compromise. This tactic can be wise as long as the compromise makes sense and leaves parent and child feeling satisfied. However, compromise is not always appropriate: For instance, if your child doesn’t want to do his or her homework, striking a deal where he or she only does half the homework won’t be useful for either of you.

 

• Joint problem solving. When you and your child disagree about a rule, consider working together to come up with a new rule that is satisfactory to both of you. This may take more work, but it will consume less energy than repeating the same fight every night.

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