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How to Help Children Stop Fighting

Laura Kuehn, LCSW
Written by Laura Kuehn, LCSW

This method of conflict resolution will help your children not only stop fighting, but enable them to resolve disagreements, arguments and fights among themselves. There are five elements to this method that make up the acronym STALL. Let’s look at each element individually. You can download a printable poster here. Make sure you print one copy for each child to have for reference.

S – Stop

The first step is for your children to stop whatever they are doing. They need to stop yelling, stop hitting, stop arguing. This is an essential step towards resolution. Emotional minds cannot think rationally. Your children need to learn that conflicts are best resolved when tempers have mellowed and logic has returned. You may need to step in to separate your children briefly, but if you send your kids to their rooms every time they argue, they will not learn any tools to help them to handle future disagreements. So after everyone is calm, you can move on to the next step. You may even decide to wait until the next day, if it was a particularly difficult issue.

T – Take turns

It is essential that only one person talks at a time. Children cannot interrupt or talk over each other as this will derail any efforts at conflict resolution. For some kids a physical object passed back and forth can be a tactile reminder as to whose turn it is.

A – Accept other views

This is another essential component to conflict resolution. If you had 20 people observe the same event, you would likely have 20 different impressions of what happened. Perceptions differ. Understanding this at an early age facilitates empathy and tolerance. Emphasize to the children that they need not agree with these varying viewpoints, but they need to accept the fact that they exist. Your children can practice saying something like, “I understand that you think __________ (repeat other view). I didn’t see it that way, but I accept that is how you saw it/felt.”

L – Listen

Genuine listening is active, not passive. Children need to learn how to listen while another person speaks, not simply wait for their turn to come next. They can show mastery of this skill by repeating back, in their own words, what they think they heard before they get to say what is on their mind.

For example, “I hear you saying____________. Is that right?”

L – Love

Above all else, conflict resolution needs to be overseen by love. Even if your children can’t come to an agreement on the issue at hand, they can identify how they could show love in this situation. It is possible that, even after all these efforts, one child still feels that they have been wronged. They can show love by forgiving and forgetting the offense. The other child can show love by apologizing for being hurtful, even if they feel they were hurt first. It is not a matter of proving right or wrong, but one of treating others as you would like to be treated.

To learn how you can best implement this program with your children, click here.

Photo credit: phaewilk from morguefile.com

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed therapist who offers parent counseling services to families in Connecticut. She loves to equip and encourage parents of kids of all ages. CfP is the place she combines some of her favorite things: writing, parenting and God's word. She is happily married to a wonderfully supportive husband and is the mother of two delightfully inspiring teens.

2 Comments

  • Laura, I love your practical tools! They are so helpful (and full of wisdom)! Thank you for sharing!

    • Melanie,
      I find that these tools really help parents like me have a mental road map on how to handle complex situations. Parenting can sometimes make us feel like we have been blindfolded and spun around like in Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Tools can help us get re-oriented so we can hit our “mark!”

      Blessings,
      Laura

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