Often parents try to force kids into cooperating, and they wonder why they won’t. Force and collaboration don’t work together.
You can’t use the Director Parenting Role (like a boss who gives orders) and force cooperation. The only way to build true cooperation, is to use the Collaborator Parenting Role whenever possible. Deciding on which role to use varies depending on several factors. Read Do You Know Your Parenting Role? to learn more.
There’s a bigger picture to the value of family’s solving problems than just the immediate benefit of greater harmony and cooperation. Through this process, children develop an inner sense of value that will nourish an inner strength their entire life.
Below are examples of situations where you can start by using the 5-Step Problem Solving Process if on some level, everyone involved has a need or goal that they want fulfilled. Sometimes, you will also need to ensure follow-up with Director Role Strategies.
- Leaving the house in the morning.
- Siblings fighting
- Vacation planning
- Extracurricular activities
You may be questioning why children would want to solve some of these problems, such as chores or doing homework, because they may say they don’t care. With chores, you want to teach them to take on responsibility and most undone chores do impact them in a negative way.
For example, can you imagine what would happen if dishes aren’t done, the table isn’t cleared, toys aren’t safely put away, clothes aren’t washed, or if the bathroom isn’t cleaned, it will eventually have a negative impact of them. You could have fun discussion about “what would happen if no one did….” to help them understand this impact.
Children need to know that there is an expectation of doing chores, homework, learning how to get along with their sibling, leaving the house in the morning, etc.
If you have been trying to control any of these situations unsuccessfully, then it’s time to shift from being the Director to being the Collaborator.
This shift needs to be announced clearly to those involved. You will let them know that you have been acting like it was only your challenge to solve and it isn’t.
Here is a sample dialogue for shifting from using the Director Role to the Collaborator Role:
Step 1: State the problem to all concerned.
Find a relaxed time to talk about the joint problem that you want to solve.
Adult: “We’re having a hard time _______________________ “(see examples below):
- getting out of the house on time without problems. (I’ll use this issue in my examples.)
- making sure you get your homework done
- doing the chores cooperatively without arguing
Adult continues: “I’ve been acting as if it’s just my problem and that isn’t true. It’s a joint problem so we need to find solutions that we agree on together. We will therefore have family problem-solving discussions.“ If they complain, you could either ignore it or say, “it’s hard trying something new. I believe this process will make everyone happier.”
Step 2: Before you ask each person in the family meeting to share their thoughts and feelings about the problem, share these guidelines:
- Don’t blame or attack others as you say what you think and feel because they will get upset and the conversation will stop.
- Focus on listening to each other without using communication blocks.
- Try to listen to everyone’s thoughts and feelings before sharing possible solutions and developing a plan.
- It’s often helpful to write down notes of what each person says so they know they are being heard. Also, these can be referred to when discussing possible solutions.
To get a full understanding of this process before making these announcements, study the 5-Step Solving Process in my book Ally Parenting: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation which you can purchase on Amazon or Audible.com.
The 5 steps are:
- Stop Blocking Communication
- Listen Openly
- Discuss Ideas
- Make a Plan
- Follow Up Later
Enjoy everyone’s wonderful feeling of connection, happiness, and high self-esteem in your family when you tackle each problem together.
Copyright 2020 Cynthia Klein. www.bridges2understanding.com . Parenting expert – contact Cynthia for speaking at youir organization, attending a workshop, or for private coaching.