Now, this is an idea that those of you familiar with my writings will be familiar with, so let me clarify what the difference is between a “common preference” and “conflict resolution”.

Conflict resolution is the result of problem solving skills that resolves the problem of compromise[where both parties win (get what they want) but also lose (give up something that they want)]. The desired result is a solution to the problem that meets everyone’s needs, and it does often do so in ways that are better than any of the original ideas brought to the table.

Through redefining the problem so that it reflects everyone’s concerns, and then brainstorming solutions that meet everyone’s needs, there is emphasis on relationship and on non-selfish solutions. Creativity and connection is fostered.

Ultimately, though, there may come a point in time where the parent, as the authority, sets a plan in motion for enacting a solution and a time to evaluate its effectiveness. There may be a series of solutions that will be attempted. This is a fluid and ongoing process.

Finding a common preference is very different. It starts out the same, but with a restriction on any and all coercion, the parent has no authority to guide the process or make sure that everyone’s needs are really being met. In fact, in the absence of a common preference that appeals to everyone it is the parent, with more maturity, who is expected to set aside their needs and ensure that the child get their way.

The belief is that by modeling self sacrifice the child will eventually choose it and, no doubt, with some children this is the case. More often, though, children raised with this approach end up with a sense of entitlement and believe that by holding out for their idea they will get their way- and, as this is the case, the reinforcement of this reality cements this belief.

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