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Lessons I’m Learning:
Each day deeper I get into this parenting journey I realize more and more that parenting is not a one size fits all kind of thing. Actually, parenting differs with every child you may have. For Big Girl I have to be unwavering in my resolution once I have made up my mind on something because she will argue to the death about it. Curly Girl I have to be tender in my discipline because she is my sensitive soul. Babykins is still about patience as she learns the ropes of her life around her.
Many times, with Babykins I think of the movie Monkey Kingdom (have you seen it? We adore it!) when baby monkey gets the free pass to be annoying and the other monkies just have to deal with it because the baby is just learning about the world around him.
So what does that have to do with you? Patience my grasshopper I am getting to a very important subject! When I recognize that my parenting has to change with each baby I have come to reflect on how conflict needs to be handled differently with each child as well.
When I went to university we sat in a classroom and were given an assignment, to ask our partner several questions. We were then given a label of the following: teddy bear, turtle, fox, owl or shark. At the time I was young and was stoked when I was given the label teddybear! Sweet I thought! Teddy bears are loving and cuddly and who wouldn’t want to be a teddy bear?! We were then put into groups based on our label. Here is what we came to learn:
Teddy Bear (Accomodating)
Teddy Bears are people who try to keep the peace because they are loving and want others to be happy. They are willing to give up their own wants and desires in an attempt to make those around them happy.
Teddy Bears can struggle with low self-confidence and self-esteem and may get taken advantage of because the other party will always get their way. Sometimes, because a teddy bear always gives in to what others desire and want, they can build resentment and anger that may increase over time.
Turtles are people who tend to minimize or avoid conflict. They usually have a belief that conflict over time will be resolved on its own. This means that there is a tendency to create situations where the two that are in conflict both lose even if the relationship is maintained because problems are never solved.
Turtles need to be leery because they may sometimes get walked over by avoiding conflict.
Foxes are those who are willing to use their tools of communication to find a solution that has a positive outcome for all involved. They are willing to give up some of their own personal goals and will encourage others to do the same if it means a positive outcome to the conflict.
Sometimes foxes may be viewed as manipulating because everything is based on compromise.
Owls are people who highly value relationships and live their lives based on integrity. That means they are people you can trust. They will win your respect, and trust because they value your relationship. Owls tend to look at situations where a solution occurs when all parties win.
The only downfall of owls is that sometimes conflicts require a quick solution to the problem and this conflict resolution takes too long.
Sharks are seen as brave and courageous. They can be the voice that stands up against bullies. Sharks can quickly get to a resolution but it may result in one party winning while the other loses.
Sharks need to be cautious that they are not too pushy and over-domineering resulting in the loss of relationships.
Once we had learned this information in university, the professor told us that we were armed with the knowledge needed to be proactive in dealing with conflict. So how does this relate to you as a parent? How we treat our kids is how they will treat others.
I don’t know about you, but I am hoping that because you are reading my blog, that you want a child who is sensitive to others feelings, who will work to communicate and solve their problems with the desire that everyone wins, who will stand up for others, and generally be a good person.
Do you want to be intentional in your parenting? I know I do, and the only way to do that is to educate ourselves on how and why we do the things we do. This means that our conflict management styles will rub off on our children and how they behave. Do you want to have the child that is a yeller because you are? Do you want your child to fight to the death about how they respond to conflict? What is your goal?
Parenting Conflict Comparisons
Parenting is such a humbling experience if we allow it to teach us how we can be better. Many times I have caught Big Girl throwing around the same threats I use when Curly Girl or Babykins are not doing what she wants them to. “Fine Curly Girl!!” Big Girl exclaims “Then I won’t go to the park with you! or I’m leaving without you!” I cringe when I note the impatience in her voice. But it has become my inner mirror to gauge myself on the ways I am responding to my girls. I often have to reflect on the questions of,
- is this how I am responding to my girls?
- what is a better way to set the example?
- am I being kind? patient? loving?
Now it is time to reflect as a parent on what you believe and think. Does your conflict management style fit your parenting beliefs or how you want your child to act?
My Conflict Management Style Now
Through the last ten years since taking my conflict management course in school, my conflict management style has changed. This is probably from becoming more confident but also through some super hard lessons learned. I have become a compromising Fox where I truly believe that sometimes you win some and sometimes you lose some. There are times where it is worth the fight to problem solve with my Big Girl of her doing one activity she wants to do and then being able to do one activity that I want to do.
However, I don’t want to always be a compromising fox; my goal would be to become a collaborating Owl. I want to create such deep connections in my relationships that others can trust and respect me because I have treated them as a child of God that they feel His love. We may have differing opinions but I want my children especially to know that I am here to constantly invite them to higher ground. To be as the Savior would be.
So tell me, what conflict management style are you? Are you a teddy bear? fox? turtle? Owl? or Shark?