Teaching Your Children About Compromise


Mother and Son

You’ve probably been through this scenario with your child more than a few times. He or she wants it and wants it now! It doesn’t matter what the “it” is, whether it is your daughter wanting to wear jeans to a wedding, your son wanting a sugary snack right before dinner or both kids fighting over the same toy. Now, my friend, is the time to teach your child the art of compromise.

You Can Start Early

You don’t need to wait until your children are older to start teaching them to compromise. Even kids as young as 2 years of age can start to learn how to compromise. Generally, the hardest hurdle to overcome is the fact that children simply have not learned that there are multiple viewpoints in any opposing situation. John may want the red crayon because he is drawing a robin; Jane may want the red crayon because it is her favorite color.

When teaching your kids compromise, keep in mind that the goal of compromise is for both people to feel satisfied and to feel that their most important needs have been met and their voices heard. Even young kids have this need. By teaching your children compromise you are not teaching them to walk all over you. Instead, you will find that as your children feel that their needs and opinions are valued, they, in turn, will learn to value the needs of others.

Tips for Teaching Compromise

You can find many opportunities to show your children that there are multiple viewpoints in any confrontational situation.

  1. Talk about issues with your children. Many children’s books, movies and tv shows, including cartoons, include some sort of conflict. This gives you a perfect opportunity to ask your child for his or her thoughts about which character was right or how a conflict might be resolved so that both characters are happy. If that is too much for your child, you can discuss the ending, explaining more thoroughly how the characters acted to make a compromise.
  2. Fix the issue of control.  Many times, children do not like to compromise because it means they are not in control of the situation. You can help them through this with many simple methods such as:
    • Giving them easy choices. Would you rather have spaghetti or a hamburger for dinner tonight? Do you want to wear the red shirt or the pink shirt today?
    • Explaining your behavior. “Your Dad go out for dinner tonight but I wanted to have some friends over. We decided to go out for dinner but invite our friends along, too.”
    •  Watch your children closely and help them figure out compromises on their own. Pay attention when your kids play with their friends or each other. If they are fighting over a toy, for example, stop them and ask questions. Why do you want the toy? Why does your friend want it? Is there a way you can each get at least some of what you want? If the children are stumped, offer to help.

Whenvever you are teaching children about compromise, be sure to make it crystal clear that although neither one is getting exactly as desired, they are both getting something they desire. And point out that they’ve managed to make each happy and to feel valued. Above, be sure to say “good job!” when they’ve reached a satisfactory compromise.

Photo Credit:  istockphoto.com

What do you think of these parenting tips?