By definition to compromise is to settle a dispute by mutual concession.
As in I give a little something and you give a little something.
In order to compromise we need to get into the other person’s head. We need to care about their feelings and wishes. We need to have empathy.
Empathy is something we talk about quite a bit in my house. My son was recently diagnosed with not only ADHD but also High Functioning Autism. Autism, as most of us know, appears on a spectrum, so it affects everyone who has it differently.
My son struggles with emotional regulation. He is absolutely unable to see any other viewpoint but his own. He will not hesitate to scream, stomp, hit or possibly call someone “stupid.”
My son loves to argue, if he senses he upset you he is going to keep pushing. He is like a shark that smells blood, he moves in for the kill. I am the opposite, I cannot stand arguing.
Some parents are doing math flashcards with their kids, and practicing writing their names. I spend my time trying to come up with ways to role-play and encourage positive social interaction.
why I am teaching my child the art of compromise
Compromise makes my life easier
Lately my son has been waking up before his alarm in the morning. This early waking presents a couple problems for me. Aside from the fact that it interrupts my quiet coffee time, it also puts me in a position where I am constantly teetering on the edge of a major blowout.
You see, on a normal day the alarm goes off and I do not enter the room. He must get dressed before he leaves his room. If he doesn’t, the whole morning routine is thrown off and things go down hill quickly with the two of us arguing back and forth.
There is nothing more irritating to my senses than my child screeching at me, it’s like nails on a chalkboard.
While trying to ignore the screaming one morning I had something of an epiphany. It was time to teach my very stubborn 6 year-old about the art of compromise. This how I went about it.
Define the word compromise
Give your child a simple definition of the word compromise. I like to say that compromise is when, “you give a little something and I give a little something.”
You could also explain that when you compromise you are avoiding a conflict. Some children will understand this while others will have more questions. Try to answer their questions by emphasizing that it is ok to disagree, as long as you are respectful.
Show them compromise in action
I first demonstrated a compromise by first asking my son what he could do for me that he thought would make me happy.
Little dude volunteered to brush his teeth by himself. I said ok, and I offered to give him privacy in the bathroom. (Knowing full well that there would be toothpaste smeared all over my bathroom.)
After he brushed I said, “Look we both gave a little something.”
Adults can also model compromise in small ways every day. Sometimes the Hubs and I will disagree on what to do for an afternoon. If I want to be alone and he wants to socialize, we compromise. He takes E and runs errands, while I get to be alone. When they return, he goes to hang out with our neighbor for a while.
talk about the feelings of others
Talk about other people’s feelings constantly. Younger children often do notice the feelings and reactions of others. In my case, my son notices the feelings of others but will sometimes choose to not acknowledge.
This is part of his High Functioning Autism. But for some children it is simply a matter of age and social-emotional development. It takes a while for children to recognize the needs and goals of others.
When my son says something unkind to a classmate or teacher (which happens semi-frequently) I always force him to put himself in that person’s shoes. I ask, “how would you feel if Johnny told you he hated you and wished you would die?” This sounds harsh, but what he says is often harsh.
Then we talk about it. Sometimes for an extended period of time. Empathy is tough to teach and we cannot expect it to happen overnight.
The more up-front we are about our feelings,the more likely our children will be to model that same behavior. Source
reward pro-social behaviors
E recently told me that he compromised with his friend on the playground when they were deciding if they should build a “monster truck or a dune zoomer.” While I cannot picture how that conversation went, I am pleased that he made the association between compromise and conflict resolution.
Instead of rewarding him with food, I talked to him about how proud I was of his actions.
Teaching him individual social skills on my own is sort of a lofty task, but I think I can handle it.
I have every confidence that my ADHD, HFA 6 year-old wild man will grow up to be a kind and decent human being. Teaching your children communication skills is never a waste of time.
As parents, we all want our children to develop appropriate social skills. Compromise and learning empathy are just part of a larger puzzle we are all trying to put together.
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Have you ever tried to teach your children about compromise?
Do you think compromise is an important interpersonal skill?