Following is a true story told by a mother who has newly learnt Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) skills. Camilla, the mother of Thea, 7 years old, decides to introduce and apply the no-lose method of conflict resolution with her daughter for the first time.
P.E.T. teaches parents that they have the right to get their needs met and so do their children. In this case Thea has a need to be more in control of her life and have more choices. As the process proceeds Thea’s mother makes sure she gets her needs met too.
The more Thea is listened to and included in the no-lose conflict resolution process Camilla is surprised how Thea moves from initial frustration and yelling to enthusiastically contributing. There is an hilarious solution that 7 year old Thea suggests for one of her needs that Camilla readily agrees too. It is a win-win process resulting in Thea being excited to tell her father about their solutions, and a closer relationship with her mother. Thea is motivated to help her mother get her needs met too because Camilla has listened and helped Thea achieve her needs.
The short time spent in problem solving this conflict was worth the numerous positive outcomes including warm closer connection. Should Camilla have chosen to punish, threaten, or send her daughter to time-out for yelling and demanding it is likely that ongoing resistance and rebellion would have been the result.
The Story: Problem solving with Thea, 7 years of age
“Thea has for some time been frustrated because she feels that we (her parents) decide everything in the house. One evening she starts yelling that she will move from home.
Setting the stage:
I tell her that I would like to try a new method that we have learned from our class. I explain that we want to use this method in the future so that everybody likes being here.
I ask her to tell me what she would like to decide about and I actively listen. She starts by saying she wants to decide when to move from home – and that is now!
When she sees me writing it down it is like she starts relaxing. Here is what else she wants to decide upon:
– What time to go to bed
– What to eat for dinner
– What time to get up in the morning
(The following three stages of the no-lose conflict resolution flow together in this example).
2.Brainstorm Solutions; 3.Evaluate Solutions; 4.Choose Solutions
Then I say that now we have to find solutions for all these things.
Thea explains that she would like to move from home when she is 29, which is fine with me!
Recently we have agreed upon that she can lie in bed and read books from 20.00 to 20.30 but now she wants to stay up until 20.30. I say that dad and I have a need for adult-time so how about she says goodnight and then stays up in her room between 20.00 and 20.30. She is very happy with this suggestion.
Regarding dinner she wants to make sure that she gets something she likes so she suggests that she and Laura, her little sister, every day decide what to eat. I make it clear that if they choose something their nanny cannot cook, they will have to help me also with the shopping. I also point out that we have to plan it in advance and that I will insist on the food being healthy. She is fine with this and says that maybe they can choose pancakes on the weekend.
In the morning she has a need to decide on her own, what time to get out of bed without dad and me coming and telling her to get up. She suggests that we set her clock and when she feels like getting up she will, and if it is late she will hurry very much to get dressed. I tell her about my concern about not getting breakfast and she says she will hurry to make sure to eat.
I write all this down as an agreement and Thea is very happy. When her dad comes home she shows it to him and explains about it.
6. Check Results:
We agree to evaluate in a week.
The next day she is very quick with her clothes and getting dressed – I have never seen her like that before! For the dinner we agree to make a plan for the whole week. She suggests a lot of good things and all healthy. The evening also goes fine which is a relief for all of us.”
First published in Kathryn’s website The Parent Within.