Q: How do you teach kids to disagree agreeably?

—Michelle B.

A: Great question, Michelle.

The best way is to model the art of healthy conflict to your kids—at home and in public. Getting into disagreements from time to time is part of life, but outright fights don’t have to be. Try to show patience and let others get their whole point out instead of interrupting. Try not to raise your voice or use derogatory or hurtful language. For example, hear your spouse out when you disagree and reply without raising your voice. Strive for direct communication instead of passive-aggressive manipulation. These communication strategies will foster mutual respect and help create authentic relationships—inside and outside of your home. And in all interactions—disagreements or not—listen with the intent to understand rather than the intent to respond. There’s a big difference!

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis says, “Children are paparazzi. They take your picture mentally when you don’t want them to—when you don’t look good—and show it back to you in their behavior.” Take that analogy to heart, and do your best to keep your cool in heated situations. It’s challenging at times, but it’s an invaluable example to set for the young “paparazzi” living under your roof.

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