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The last week or so I have really noticed the children getting more and more frustrated with each other, I hear cries of leave me alone, followed by one (or all!) of them crying. One minute they are the best of friends and the next they can fight and dislike each other so much.
In some ways, our choice to home educate the children means that they have a particularly close relationship, but at other times it also means that they don’t get as much time away from each other as they might otherwise have done had they been in school. Now that Daniel is a little older we are trying hard to help him manage his emotions, so I thought I’d share some of the things that we are (attempting!) to put into place.
It’s sometimes easier said than done to walk away and in the heat of the moment the children can get so wound up and things seem to escalate super quick! I tell them they should walk away to calm down then try again when they are clearer headed. Daniel can often get very angry and will tend to scribble on something he has been working on or break up Lego he has been building. I know he regrets it soon after, and we are trying to help him to find techniques to calm himself with. Emma can get herself very overwrought at times, and it’s not uncommon for it to have taken a good hour to calm her down. She is very stubborn at times (a trait she gets from me) and she can get herself quite upset and fraught at times when she feels she’s been served an injustice.
Talk to us
We try to encourage them to come and seek us out if things are escalating. Harry is at the stage where he wants to get involved in everything but hasn’t quite got the hang of sharing or turn taking. Emma was playing on my iPad recently and Harry wanted to join in. They were going to take it in turns on the game, but Harry got quite cross and it all ended up in a shouting match. We try to explain to Emma that if she had come to us to ask us to help explain to Harry, then things wouldn’t have got so loud and shouty and that we can help him learn about turn taking better if we model it for him. We are trying to help them to recognise their emotions and help them deal with some of the strong feelings that make them quickly get angry, often to a point where they can lose sight of the initial problem.
Pick your battles
I remember when I was working I took a really good Conflict Management Course. There’s a lot that I have found that I have been able to take away from these courses I did at work and can now apply at home. So many of the principles remain the same. I remember one course talked about focussing on the right conflict and that plays out a lot for us at home in terms of picking our battles. Sometimes things can quickly snowball and what started as an argument over a pencil or a colouring book soon escalates into a hundred other things. Getting to the root cause after they’ve thrown teddies at each other, taken toys away or just generally not been nice is hard, and you can’t deal with all the issues. Pick your battles and help them to find a solution to it.
Model positive behaviours
I’m lucky that we haven’t really had to deal with many conflicts with other home ed parents and children, but there are, inevitably, some families that we seem to get on less well with, either because we don’t seem them so often or because we are just very different or in a different phase of our education. I do however think I’m fortunate to have only dealt with one bad incident so far. This particular incident wasn’t pleasant, but I hope I modelled to the children a good way of dealing with such conflict by remaining calm and attempting to talk to the other people concerned to resolve the issue.
Managing conflict with children can be hard work and exhausting at times, but being consistent in the approach really helps them to manage this for themselves. Do you have any tips to help children resolve problems?cofl