2. New Job Description: Facilitator
We’ve all heard of mediators. They help two people represent the facts as they see them so resolution can occur. “This is your mission, should you choose to accept it.” Okay, another TV/movie reference, I’m on a roll. Points if you say what TV/movie that quote comes from in the comments, I digress.
Instead of being the judge or jury, try seeing your job as an objective facilitator. A facilitator’s job is vastly different than a judge. The facilitator stands in between two children and asks the same questions to each of them, without adding their perspective. Facilitators move the conversation along so neither party gets stuck in the feelings again and rejects the opportunity for resolution. It sounds like this,
Mom: “Molly, what made you scream at Sam?”
Mom “Sam, what made you scream at Molly?”
Mom: “Molly, do we scream or talk about our feelings in this house?
Mom: “Sam, do we scream or talk about our feelings in this house?
Mom: “Molly, please give me 3 ideas of how you’ll say I’m sorry, so Sam can pick one.”
Mom: “Sam, please give me 3 ideas of how you’ll say I’m sorry, so Molly can pick one.”
Of course there are a lot more questions to ask before getting to the apology part, but you catch my drift. The parent stays out of it. His/her only job is to direct questions to each child so they can express themselves, feel heard, and learn conflict resolution skills. Teaching these skills now helps children prepare for long-term relationships. Tell the kids their spouses/partners will thank you later!