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Win-Win Conflict Resolution: Thea age 7 & her mother each get their needs met.

Win-Win Conflict Resolution: Thea age 7 & her mother each get their needs met.

Written by Kathryn Tonges

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.

1.Defining Needs:

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.

5.Implement Solutions

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.

Kathryn Tonges

Kathryn Tonges

Online Australia & NZ, QLD

I have been deeply rewarded seeing positive transformations in families by teaching P.E.T. effective communication skills since 1978. My two sons are now parents, and I am witness to their natural use of P.E.T. skills in all their interactions with children and people. My passion is to share these skills with others through these options: 1. Parent Effectiveness Training - for parents, grandparents, carers. 2. Be Your Best – personal empowerment skills for self, relationships, and the workplace. 3. Teacher Effectiveness Training – increases the quality of interactions between student and teacher with more teaching-learning time. 4. Instructor Training - I am a Master Trainer of P.E.T., B.Y.B., T.E.T. and Y.E.T. for ETIA Ltd. In my teaching career I taught from early childhood to tertiary level focusing on Child Development and Communication Skills. I lived in Beijing for seven years and conducted P.E.T. and B.Y.B. courses for expatriates as well as training expatriates to become P.E.T. instructors. I have written for parenting magazines in Beijing and Australia and blog for my website The Parent Within ( Whilst in Beijing I co-authored a book with P.E.T. Instructors I had trained, to help expatriate children cope with the changes in their life. In the last couple of years I have taken on the position of President of ETIA Ltd. Children, parenting, and effective communications continues to be my passion as I share these courses both online (Australia and NZ) or face to face in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast as well as coaching parents individually.

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The Effectiveness Training Institute of Australia (ETIA) Ltd is a not-for-profit, community based organisation that is dedicated to making courses in communication and conflict resolution skills available and accessible to all people in Australia.

ETIA’s mission is to provide individuals with effective communication and conflict resolution skills to build connected, harmonious relationships.

Our inspiration and programs come from the late Dr Thomas Gordon who is the author and founder of Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) program and Gordon Training International (GTI).

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