How We Resolve Arguments in Our Home

By July 10, 2013General


I adore my kids and as much as I’d like to tell you that they are always wonderfully kind and unselfish, that would be LYING. They’re kids. They fight. They get grumpy. Sometimes they’re rude.

Basically, they take after their mama. And mama ain’t perfect.

But I’ve learned a few tricks over the years that have had a HUGE impact on how we handle conflict. Here are my top 3:

Solution #1: The Expensive Lawyer

When: Like adults, sometimes kids just want someone else to solve their problem, but it’s my job as their mom to help them learn to solve their own problems.

How: When they approach me with a conflict that I can tell is within their power to resolve, I often say, “Is this a problem you can solve or do you need to hire a lawyer to solve it? I charge $1 per person, per case.”

The Win: I haven’t been hired yet.


Solution #2: Hug It Out

When: I use the Hug-It-Out solution when the kids are just being nit picky (I don’t know where they get it) or rude to one another.

How: They have to sit on the couch and hug and talk until they can convince me they’ve resolved it. I usually then follow it up with a reminder that any more unkindness will result in another Hug-It-Out session.

This doesn’t work with all my kids (i.e. the ones who love to hug), but for certain relationships, it’s a great solution.

Solution #3: The Problem Solving Page (My new FAVORITE)

When: Some issues are just more complex. Some kids are more complex. This approach is perfect for challenging or emotionally charged situations. I got the idea from the FANTASTIC book “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.”

How: All you do is grab a piece of paper and say, “Ok. We seem to have a problem here. Let’s write it down and then list our ideas for how to solve it.”

Then you write down the problem at the top of the paper and start brainstorming solutions. My kids inevitably offer solutions I would NEVER agree to, but the key concept here is to write down EVERY idea without dissing it. (I’ve written down ideas from my kids that involve rocketships, anarchy and candy.)

Once all ideas have been written down, then you talk through the pros and cons of each until you land on a solution.


There is SO. MUCH. POWER. in just listening to our children. Just knowing they have been heard and not immediately dismissed can calm them down and help them to think logically and non-defensively.

It also calms me down because I always tell them during this process that we “fight the problem, not the person.” So, whether I’m helping them work out a sibling problem or I’m working through an issue with one child, we try hard to focus our words on saying things that “fight the problem and not the person.” Somehow that concept diffuses our emotions and helps us solve the issue instead of blaming or being defensive.

I’ve used this method with everything from two kids arguing about how much room the other is taking up on the couch, to more complex conversations about respect and attitudes.

How Do You Do It?

Do your kids argue – with you or with each other? If not, then will you please start a blog and teach us your ways? If they do, what methods do you use to calm things down and bring back the peace in your home? Click here to join the discussion!

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  • Avatar Vicki says:

    I love these ideas! I’m not to this stage in parenthood yet, but have bookmarked this post for when I get there! When we would argue, my sister and I would always have to just sit on the floor and make eye contact with each other until someone smiled. It usually didn’t take long, but I don’t think it really taught us how to handle conflict. OR, we would have to pull out the “sister mug” and read it to each other: Sisters are forever and I’m so glad you’re mine.

  • Avatar Kyndra says:

    My first question is always “Are you being as kind as you could possibly be?” I nearly always get a sheepish “no” and then we can go from there talking about how to handle the problem kindly and give way to one another.
    Sometimes I get a “No, but she…” and I just repeat the question adding “I’m not asking about someone else because you are responsible for your behavior not someone else’s”

    I like the lawyer solution 🙂 …K

  • Avatar Shalene says:

    My kids are just now starting to get into the nit-picky phase with each other. I’ve found that they’re more prone to argue when I’m distracted, so I need to work more at being ever-present. And I love the “fight the problem, not the person stance!” It’s a great visual for kids!

  • Avatar erin says:

    That lawyer solution is BRILLIANT. I just love your blog!

  • Avatar J S says:

    I love these! Thanks for sharing.

    I often use the loud “just be kind” command, but that has not been very fruitful. Other times for the nit-picky stuff, we have a “sister timeout”, where the girls (age 6 and 3) are supposed to sit together in the beanbag until conflict has passed — but this usually turns into me chasing each one to try and capture them and sit them in the beanbag while the other escapes and then it becomes “them against me chase” and the conflict has long been forgotten. I guess this would be a classified as a distraction technique — not sure what it is teaching them about conflict resolution (just ignore the issue? oh dear.), but it does usually bring a lot of laughs!

  • The lawyer idea is fantastic. I love the creativity in these as opposed to just ushering out discipline. My kids are only 4 and 2 years old, but I think I can adapt a few or these and use them in the coming years. Thanks.

  • Avatar Becky says:

    You are so right about them sometimes just needing to be heard. I see this help a lot with my almost (tomorrow) 3yr old. “I often repeat what she said and then BUT you can’t have it now or whatever the case may be and SUDDENLY she is so much more receptive. It doesn’t always work but often it’s like magic! My twin boys (6) get along well but we do a your day/my day chart that solves a lot of the “but he always picks a movie” kind of problems. Also sometimes they just need to rest alone in bed to cure a case of the grumps.

    I love “fighting the problem not the person”. Totally stealing that one! A beautiful picture of Christ loving us but not tolerating our sin!

  • Avatar SJ says:

    My kids are still young, 2 and 5, but lately they seem to bicker ALL THE TIME and sometimes I feel like screaming from the rooftops. In reality, if they persistently are not getting along or if it escalates to some sort of physical hitting/shoving nonsense, they both get a time out. I don’t give time out to just the one who hit the other or the one who took the toy, but both so that they understand that it takes effort from both of them to play nicely and if they can’t make that happen, then no one gets off free and easy. It works most of the time for at least a while until they’re onto the next altercation.

    • Avatar Danielle says:

      I feel your pain!! It’s like my kids have been cooped up inside all winter and are getting on each others’ nerves but of course it’s summer!! Extra consumption of chocolate seems to be my main coping technique right now. . .

  • Avatar Danielle says:

    My kids (6, 4,and 2) are fighting like crazy right now (mostly just the older two) so this has been on my mind a lot. I like these suggestions but our current issues are not so much actual problems as just general bickering. I use a version of Hug It Out by making the kids put their hands on each others’ shoulders and sweetly say “I love you” 5 or so times. Usually ends in giggles. I have also had a sudden “energy drain” (love and logic concept) from the fighting. and the kids have to help me get my energy back by doing a chore together. I like this one because they have to work together to get ‘er done and then I *get to* be so amazed and delighted at how well they did. 🙂

  • Number 3 is GENIUS, Well, who am I kidding, these are ALL amazing ideas!

  • Avatar Michelle says:

    My girls are little (4,2), but still old enough to bicker and pick on each other. I often begin with gentle attention and hugs for each girl. When that does not work and offenses occur, even at this young age, we talk about the root cause of their unkindness, which is generally selfishness. We then work through repentance and forgiveness, even at a basic level. And my “secret weapon”? I pray my way through every battle. As a single mom, I depend on God to be both their Father and mine. I love watching God at work on us all.

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  • Avatar Jennifer K says:

    I love having my kids home during summer, but it does offer a lot more opportunities for arguments. Thanks for this post, those are some great ideas!!

  • Avatar Debbie says:

    Great ideas here. the lawyer thing is real good. I also like the “fight the problem, not the person.” .

    With my 2 older ones they went through a time when they were always hitting each other. I tried everything, including praying. Which always worked. Some idea would always pop into my head.

    I had a pair of old hand cuffs in the house my husband had, so I handcuffed them together an set them in the middle of the floor and told them to go at it. They could hit each other all they wanted.

    They didn’t hit each other any more. Guess I took the fun out of that one.

  • Avatar Amy says:

    I LOVE THIS!!!

  • Avatar Joyce says:

    Love this post, Kat!! I think #3 is something that adults would find useful for conflict, too. 🙂