Two kids + 1 bottle of bubbles = BIG problem! Sound familiar?
I watched from across the driveway as my granddaughters went at it! My first instinct was to go into the house and pull out another bottle of the bubbles that was stashed in the closet, then both girls could each have their own. Boy, am I glad I didn’t do that! A few minutes later, my son stepped in…
“Hey girls, that’s enough. I think this bottle of bubbles wants both of you to have a turn. Let’s compromise and flip a coin. Heads, CJ goes first, tails Zoey goes first. Then I’ll set my watch timer so you can know when it’s time to switch turns. Deal?”
“Deal!” (both girls shouted in unison).
“Awe! Zoey always gets to go first! That’s not fair!!!”
“CJ, life doesn’t always seem fair… and that’s OK!”
What a proud mommy moment! My little boy understands compromise – granted he is 32. But more importantly, he is teaching his kids one of the most powerful people skills on the planet! The ability to compromise is vital to fostering healthy human relationships. When conflicts arise and people disagree, human relationships become stressed. Having the skill set to negotiate a solution that works for everyone involved can be an absolute game changer! A person who knows how to compromise effectively will be able to build healthier relationships in all aspects of life: at home, with friends and within the workplace.
Learning to master the art of compromise requires a lot of practice. Although kids grow up being very self-aware, developing an awareness for the needs and wants of others takes time…and work! If you can create situations that allow your children to truly “feel” empathy, becoming a compromise expert is much more attainable. Ask your child questions like,
- How does what you want affect others?
- How do your actions make other people feel?
- Try to be (the other kid) for a minute. What does he/she want? Why?
To effectively learn compromise, a child must understand both its meaning and its value:
Meaning – Compromise does not mean surrendering something of value just to maintain peace. It’s an agreement or settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.
Value – All human relationships must have trust and communication thrive. Being able to compromise builds on both. A person who knows how to compromise effectively takes everyone into consideration, and people are very attracted to those who are mindful of the needs and wants of others.
All great leaders know how to compromise because that is one of the things that makes them great! There are several things parents and teachers can do to help foster the learning of compromise.
1. Allow children to express their wants and needs: What do you want? What are you willing to give up to get it? Can you live with your decision?
2. Keep in mind that it is healthy and natural to argue, process, and resolve. Allow your child to formulate a solid argument as to what their situational end goal is. Try to guide them toward viewing the situation without emotion. Sticking to simple logistics allows kids to see and understand both sides of an argument more effectively, making compromise easier.
3. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, reiterate the fact that FAIR DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN EQUAL (some grownups still haven’t learned this).
4. Try to view compromise as a WIN-WIN vs a WIN-LOSE. That means that each person has to give up a part of what they have to get what they want. No pain, no gain!
5. It is very important for children to always remember there are times when they DON’T COMPROMISE! That means never saying yes to a bad situation that is harmful, not safe, not wise, or goes against their morals and values.
6. Always remember… actions speak louder than words. You are your child’s compromise instructor and you are being watched continually. Allow your kids to see you argue, process and resolve issues.
A little later that afternoon I overheard my son and his wife talking, again from across the driveway.
“I mowed last week. It’s your turn to do it.”
“I’ve done it a ton more than you have, besides I have a lot of other stuff to do. You should do it.”
Then I heard CJ say, “I think this mower wants both of you to help it cut the grass. Why don’t you flip a coin? Dad… heads you start, tails Mommy starts. Then set your watch timer and take turns.”
Conflict to compromise! Mission accomplished!
For another great resource on the art of the compromise, check out Julia's latest book The Great Compromise.
*This article originally appeared on healthymomsmagazine.net.