Solutions To Sibling Fighting With Susan NorthMay 19, 2021
This week on the 3D Parent Podcast, we're bringing in a professional mediator expert/parent educator and coach, Susan North. Susan will be joining us to discuss possible solutions to sibling fighting. We will be talking about the golden nuggets from her book The Opposite of Combat: A Parent's Guide for Teaching Siblings How To Collaborate & Solve Their Own Conflicts.
We will go over topics such as:
- Susan's journey and what inspired her to write a book on siblings conflict.
- How mediation meets 3D Parent Approach.
- Why meditation is preferred over arbitration as solution to sibling fighting.
- Collateral benefits of mediation.
While siblings fighting is a common occurrence in a household, many parents are struggling more than ever with increasing conflicts due to the stay-at-home set-up that we have today. If you are having a hard time dealing with mediation around your home, maybe it's time for you to explore Susan's philosophies and guidelines so you'll be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to help children of all ages navigate their own conflicts.
Things You Will Learn
[00:02] In this episode, I am joined by a very special guest, Susan North, and we’re going to discuss solutions to sibling fighting. Susan North has been working with children and their families since completing UC Berkeley's Early Childhood Education program in 1971. She opened her mediation practice in 2007 and now divides her time doing conflict resolution, parent education, parent coaching, blogging, teaching school-age kids to be peer mediators, and volunteering with Southern California Family Mediation in the Child Dependency Courts. She is the author of The Opposite of Combat: A Parent's Guide for Teaching Siblings How to Collaborate & Solve Their Own Conflicts.
[02:37] The book “The Opposite of Combat”, was inspired by North’s passion for child development, parent education, and mediation. Interestingly speaking, the opposite of combat, which is TAMBOC, is an acronym of all the steps in mediation as follows:
- Mull over
[04:39] With the above mentioned steps, conflicts will hopefully lead to peaceful resolutions. As North said, mediation bridges the disciplines of child development and parent education. It provides parents and caregivers the knowledge and skills necessary to help children of all ages navigate their own conflicts, collaborate to solve their own problems, deepen their sibling relationships, and develop trust and confidence in their decision-making abilities.
[05:37] This book aims to be a tool for parents for their very young kids, those barely verbal, up to when they are ready to face the world. As the saying goes, you have to start them young, the older they get, the more complex things get. But the good thing is, you can apply this to different perspectives, different ages, and different relationships as mediation would help conflicting parties to go deeper into the situation and come to a resolution for the betterment of both sides.
[07:53] When I initially connected with North, I wanted to make sure her book and strategies were in line with the 3D Parent’s philosophies which are dignity, direction, and deep connection. At this point of the podcast, Susan explained to us how to mediate sibling disputes for the philosophies of 3D parents.
[08:25] Dignity is when respect is present. If you see two children squabbling, you have to respect the children, the situation, and their needs. It is important to respect them and make it to a point that they get to express their feelings and they get to be heard. Mediating helps provide dignity in terms of them being able to learn how to respectfully disagree and share their viewpoints.
[09:25] Another very important point in mediation is having a guided conversation. Giving direction (our second D of 3D Parent) and guidance to your squabbling children is a lot better compared to being a referee or a judge who would almost always resolve a conflict through pinpointing who is right or wrong. It is important to lead your children into talking it out between or among themselves instead of just dictating who the good or the bad guy is. Because being a judge brings more conflict than solution. It traps the kids into involving you all the time during similar situations, while mediating will help kids solve their own problem through your guidance.
[10:17] Lastly, we have the deep connection. I think it is what we all yearn for --- having deep connection with the people we truly love and value. Talking with kids, not just during conflicts, (1) will help you get to know them better, (2) will help them get to know you better, and (3) help them get to know each other.
[13:05] Susan proceeds to explain why mediation is a lot better than arbitration. When you are arbitrating, you tend to pinpoint who the winner and loser is in a given situation. It might be easier and less time consuming to just come up with a decision and give reward or punishment to either of the parties, but little do you know that it brings a dynamic of gloating and revenge. With the decision that you make, you add more fuel to the fire between or among your children.
[14:23] On the other hand, mediation puts the power into two conflicting parties. It helps them be more calm and more responsible with their actions and emotions. It might be harder and time consuming to learn and to enact, but it surely is worth the time. As mediation focuses more on the process, richer results arise. With them being mediated, as I have said, they get to know themselves better and they get to assess the situation more efficiently, resulting in a more natural win --- a win-win situation.
[15:22] With mediation, children become conflict confident. Created by workplace mediators Flanigan and Randy, conflict confidence means acknowledging that conflict is normal and that it is something that one can be good at. Being conflict confident will help your children grow better and mature better.
[00:18:56] Having a natural win is a win-win situation. It delves deeper into the soul of two conflicting parties and lets them assess the situation even more. Here are some reasons why mediation is a win for all:
- Mediation humanizes conflict partners. It lets you make them see the other as a person, a human being that has emotions like them. It encourages authenticity as they get to reflect on themselves on what the matter really is. As they reflect, they look for overlapping interests.
- Mediation also repositions children in the viewpoint “It is you and me against the world,” allowing parents to facilitate neutrally without being a referee to conflicting parties. As what I have said, mediation makes conflicting parties calmer, putting to rest certain conflicts and diffusing strong emotions. It teaches children to be conflict competent and conflict independent.
- Mediation helps forceful personalities to learn to compromise, while teaching meeker types to stand the ground.
[24:51] We could really say that mediation benefits everyone as it deals not just the tip of the iceberg but the whole iceberg itself. It is important for parents to have the ability to power balance, meaning, to probe into both sides with equal time, equal weight, and equal respect. Parents like you should also remember that mediation does not aim to make a lion into a lamb, instead, you should teach your children how to listen, how to learn to take perspective, how to give credit where credit is due, and how to be empathic.
[00:26:34] Aside from what I have been discussing with you, we can obviously break down some collateral benefits of mediation. With a lot of mediation coming from you, children see how conflicts can be resolved peacefully. They start to see how messages work, allowing them to regulate their emotions. With this, they will realize that keeping their demeanor calm can also calm the other party. It helps children to develop their emotional literacy and empathy. Lastly, meditation improves your children’s negotiation skills --- teaching them when and where to throw their argument properly and efficiently.
[00:29:56] Generally speaking, the book aims to help children be completely competent and to make them be better citizens for themselves and for everyone and everything around them. Remember, it has to start at home. Mediation has to be guided by parents.[00:31:17] If you want to learn more, visit Susan North’s Facebook page “Opposite of Combat”. She also has a blog at squabblefest.com, named Squabble Quest Blob. Of course, being multi-faceted and passionate in her field, North has a general bog tackling topics of child rearing.
Quotes From Episode 57
"Mediation is an opportunity for a lot of deep connection."
"Mediation puts the power in the hands of the two parties who are having the dispute and takes the power out of the hands of the mediator."
"I love the term conflict confident because it says that conflict is normal and it says that it's something you can get good at."
"If we're not addressing the causes of behavior problems in our children, we're not helping our children to mature."
"Mediation has the power to put certain conflicts to rest."
"Mediators use power balancing because no two parties in a mediation are equally powerful or forceful."
"When you guide kids through mediations, they can see that conflict can be resolved peacefully. They start to see that active listening really works."
"I think conflict competent kids make excellent friends, roommates, colleagues, spouses, parents, community members. Basically just better citizens of the world."
Let's work together! I provide 1:1 support for parents motivated to make positive changing in their parenting and gain confidence and increase fulfillment in their role as parents. If this sounds like it might be what you've been looking for, book a free consultation today.
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