When families have disagreements or children challenge the rules, compromise can be an effective tool. Compromising involves discussing a problem between family members calmly. We suggest that you choose an easy problem to discuss at first while the family is still learning this skill. A more heated disagreement can be compromised later. The therapist should review the rules with the family as well as offer praise for following the rules in session. Here are the rules families should follow when participating in a compromise session:
- Be calm: This is critical! However, you are human too, and this is not always
possible. If you need to you can leave the room or make a phone call—do something that allows you
time to get at least a little more calm.
- Be as objective as you can: Go into all discussions with an open mind and don’t make
any decisions until you hear all of the information from your child.
- Be a good listener: Good communication skills are essential to compromise, and
influence each step of the process. Often the problem is clouded by issues in the
relationship or the situation. Sometimes this can make it very hard to be a
good listener. When you are communicating effectively you should acknowledge emotions and ask
questions to make sure you understand the other person’s views.
- Be respectful: Both you and your child should treat each other with respect and
- Stay on the subject: Do not get sidetracked. Resolve one conflict, and then move on to the next.
- Offer suggestions when you disagree: Do not just say ‘no’ to a request. Try to offer
an alternative. even if it is just a small step towards the child’s goal.
- Focus on the present and what you would like to happen: Do not bring up the past.