By: Lisa Cavallaro – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
Talking with kids about all the different ice cream flavors, shoe styles and music genres that exist in this world can make for some fun and exciting conversations. But while we’re on the topic of “different” we’d better include personalities.
Let’s face it, when it comes to people, we can pretty much bank on these two things:
1. We’re never going to like or agree with everyone
2. Not everyone is going to like or agree with us either
Don’t worry… this is a good thing. We don’t need everyone to agree with us and they don’t need us to agree with them either. But our paths do cross and knowing what to do in situations with people who push our buttons is a really important skill to have.
As with everything when it comes to parenting, our kids know our thoughts about things before we even tell them because they’re tuned in to everything we do. They know how to deal with difficult people before we speak one word, because they’re watching us do it all the time.
They hear the stories we tell about our conversations with demanding bosses, consistently noisy neighbors and politically incorrect relatives. They see how we respond to drivers who cut us off and store clerks we claim have “attitude.”
Without saying one word, we’re schooling kids every day on how to deal with difficult people. How’s that for a little parental pressure? (If you’re feeling guilty… please don’t. That’s not the intent. This is easy to change.)
People don’t agree with each other because we’re not supposed to. Our planet would be a super boring place if we were all the same. Kids need to know this.
When it comes to dealing with difficult people, we can start by helping kids understand the word difficult is something we have assigned to these people. We call them difficult because we aren’t quite sure how to deal with them.
With practice, kids will discover there are less and less difficult people in the world… simply because they’ll know how to handle themselves with these people and won’t feel so challenged by different personalities.
One of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make when it comes to dealing with difficult people is doing nothing. They’re so afraid of doing the wrong thing that they shut right down. The other person is then free to totally misunderstand the shutdown. Is it a sign of weakness? An admission of guilt? A changed opinion? An apathetic attitude?
We need to let kids know they have a right to stand up and speak up. They’re entitled to express their viewpoints and they’re entitled to practice expressing them.
Knowing when it’s the right time to speak up and when it’s best to remain silent is a muscle worth exercising. But permanently shutting down is never ever recommended.
As parents and teachers, it’s our job to help kids feel more comfortable communicating with the challenging people in their lives. It begins with modeling the skills we want them to cultivate and continues with conversations when specific instances arise in their lives.
When we notice them struggling with a certain someone, we can:
- Help them process the situation while focusing on their power in it
- Emphasize the focus is speaking their truth, not teaching or changing the other person
- Talk with them about the right time to speak with this person
- Help them gather words that adequately express their viewpoint AND respect the other’s viewpoint
- Offer reasons they should feel confident in their ability to articulate what’s true for them
- Point out that having difficult conversations is something a lot of adults can’t do and that their willingness to stand up and speak up demonstrates strength and courage
- Remind them this is a skill worth developing because it will come in handy throughout their lives
The more practice kids get with the art of conversation, the less intimidated they will be by what other people say and do.
It’s really not that… well… difficult .
More on parenting by Lisa Cavallaro:
Lisa Cavallaro, The Confidence Coach, is an LOA Coach with a solution-focused spin on bullying. She helps parents leverage Law of Attraction to raise kids who are self-confident and have a positive outlook toward peers, school and life. Lisa is the author of No More Drama and ADHD The Natural Way.
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