Do Your Kids come Running to You When They’re Having a Conflict?

Today is a fun topic and that is do your kids come running to you when they’re having a conflict? Or in other words, what do you do when that happens? If you have young kids, we’re in the stage right now where there’s a lot of clashing of heads. There’s a lot of them learning every little nuance of a person and emotion and needs and all those different things very fast. And so there’s a lot of collisions, but how you handle that really, really matters. But Jeremy, I’d love to hear what you say and kind of the landmines the parents tend to step on that maybe they shouldn’t.

Yeah. So it’s important to have a philosophy about how you want to handle sibling conflict. And one of the ones that is really important to get your head around is that you want your children to get really good at resolving conflict, without escalating it to an authority figure. And for a lot of people, that’s counterintuitive, that are really intentional parents. A lot of intentional parents think, well, of course, I want them to come to me. I want to be there. I want to be involved. I want to help my kids. And of course, in so many areas, that’s what we want to do. But in this area, there’s a trap. Okay, and this is the trap.

If your kids get trained that the person who goes to the authority figure first wins the argument, which is often times what happens in these kinds of families, then that is actually what you’re training your kids to do instead of actually working through and resolving the conflicts on their own. So this is incredibly tricky, and so I just wanted to sort of mostly call out the philosophy. What you don’t want to do is don’t train your kids that whoever escalates first wins the debate. Like that, and that happens very quickly in a lot of homes and that’s not healthy. What you really want, I would say philosophically, is you want your kids to get really skilled at resolving conflict with each other, without involving anyone else, unless they get to a certain point, then it’s of course appropriate and important to escalate it to an authority figure. And so this is why it’s so tricky because there’s some kind of weird line where the conflict just needs to come to a parent, right?

It needs to come to somebody in authority and how do kids even learn that line? And so a lot of this, there’s a few tools you could use to try to do this. Okay, one is that if somebody is coming to you and they’re sort of a talebearer. They like to come to you. They’re really good at like escalating very quickly. Then you need to specifically train that child. Okay, I want you to go back and I want you to start to work on resolving this. Give them pointers, train them, give them ideas for how to do that, and then send them back. Show them that what you expect from them is that you’re not going to step in every time.

Now, of course, if you realize that the situation is so bad, that you really need to step in this time, that’s okay. But realize that you’re probably now moving the needle closer to that sort of point where your kids might just start coming to you at the drop of a hat when there’s a conflict. The second tool you can use is what I was thinking is the cage match tool. Okay. So this is where you actually get your kids to work out a conflict where you’re in the proximity but you refuse to get involved until it gets to some crazy point. One family, the Reno’s, the way they do this is they actually when there’s a conflict between two siblings, they’ll put them under the dining room table. I’d never heard about this. We didn’t try this when our kids were little. But they’ll stick both kids under the dining room table because, I love this idea, because what they do is the mom can hear what’s going on.

They’ll tell which ones really probably being more stubborn and they’ll find the problem in a conflict resolution process. And it’s really important to teach your kids a conflict resolution process, right. But you can, but a lot of that requires a ton of additional sort of training nuances, and so having a cage match like that is often healthy. This is by the way, I think one of the reasons why April wanted to send our kids off on their 10 day road trip in the van without us. It’s like, you’re stuck together. You got to work it out. And so I think it’s just really important to have, as a part of your desire for your kids and your training of your kids, work out the conflict with each other and work it out well. Only come to us when it’s at last resort, but Jeff, have you guys kind of worked through this one?

I would say, yeah, I think one thing too, we have to realize too, is like, we don’t want them to always come to us from a pure… There’s all the good reasons we said, but I think even secondary, not the highest motivation, but a secondary motivation is that this is I don’t, you know, I’m talking to someone or I’m doing something or there’s a little bit of that.

Yeah. Too busy.

And so we want them, it’s helpful. Especially when we have guests over and stuff like that. Like I said to do ministry and to be in conversation for them to be able to do that and learn those skills. The way we’ve tried to navigate it and I think it’s a long play because where we’ve been in it for a year and there’s only baby steps of fruit, is for us, is I feel like we try to lean into each particular, how we want each particular kid to respond and teach them individually, if that makes sense.

So like with Kinsley, she’s the oldest, so we’ll really lean into her and really teaching her on individual moments or in the moment when there’s a fight or just when I’m on a date with her or whatever. I’m just like, “Hey, you have a level of authority as the oldest that the Lord has given you on our family team that you need to exercise. Any type of authority given by God is means that you have, and any type of responsibility means you have to sacrifice the most. It means you have to love the most, means you have to kind of die the most, right. And mom and dad are going to do that first, as the ultimate authorities. And then God Himself, as the ultimate authority has done that by laying down His life.”

So it’s kind of this trickle down effect. So we want her to learn that. So we really push her into that during the conflicts of, “Hey, what does it look like to maybe actually get something taken from you in an unjust way and you love him in that, you forgive him in that, you find some other thing for him in that.” And then with Canon, we’ll then take him aside in different individual moments and kind of talk about what it means to not have to kind of grab for things you think you need and not have to kind of elbow out people, but understand that your sister loves you and you can trust her and she’s going to give you good things and we will and that type of thing.

So I think kind of leaning into each, how you want each individual kid to respond. I think a lot of times we just think across the board, it’s the same-


… and just teach him the ethic of the home, which there’s some level there’s family rules, there’s family culture. But even one step below that is we really believe there should be kind of a dance that usually is playing out with age dynamics. That’s really helpful. And so we just really try to kind of push them in that direction. But yeah, that’s what I would say guys is whatever, wherever you’re thinking about on this. Remember it’s a long play, there’s no kind of fast, easy track on this one. You’re teaching your kids. This is what is helpful to me. You’re teaching your kids something that you probably still are not that good at, right?

That’s true. Yeah.

Like at some level, we’re still all learning conflict. We’re still, you know, adults still learn not to run away or not be passive aggressive or we’re not as intense. We don’t bite and hit, but none of us are that healthy at conflict. So it’s a very long play and it’s a building block situation, but you will see the fruit, if you really lean into it.

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