One thing that works really well for us is to write a note or draw a picture about what happened or how we’re feeling. Getting your thoughts and feelings out on paper alleviates the pressure, blame, anger, and frustration that both of you are feeling. It allows the two of you to discuss and look at the problem with some emotional distance.
You can write a note about what happened or just a plain love note and slip it under their door, hand deliver it, or fold it into a paper airplane and fly it to them from the doorway. Even if your child can’t read, you can read it to them. Children love to receive notes and mail of any kind. After your child has read the note you can go in and attempt to reconcile and talk. Or you could request in your note that they write one back and do all your communicating on paper.
Make a List:
Make a list together of things that are bothering your child or adding stress to their lives. Have them circle the things that bring the most stress and then create another list for ideas to alleviate the stress. You can also create a list of ideas to solve a particular problem. Encourage them to brainstorm out loud. Write down every idea they mention. Talk about each idea and how it would work, how it might help the problem, and how feasible it is. Together, cross off the ideas that you decide won't work. Circle the ones that are do-able and then make them happen together. Sometimes just writing down their ideas, thoughts, or stresses helps them realize that you take their opinions and ideas seriously. If they know you are on their side, they'll be more likely to open up and trust you.
Drawing a Picture:
Draw a picture about the problem or how you are feeling. Take it to your child and explain the different parts of the picture. Sometimes we draw pictures together on paper or on a white board where we are stick people talking to each other with text boxes. Rather than speaking out loud to each other, we write the things we want to say in our stick person’s text box. With your youngest children, give them paper and crayons and encourage them to draw how angry they are. Show them how to make big scribbles with dark colors to show lots of anger or little light wavy lines to show only a little anger.
Making Graphs and Charts:
My daughter loves pie charts and graphs. Sometimes after we’ve had a fight I make a graph or chart to demonstrate a problem. Her favorite one was when I drew two pie charts demonstrating how much free time she’d have to play if she did what I asked right away versus if she spent 2 hours fighting about it. You could use a graph-like picture to show what times of day you need the most help. You could help your child create a graph showing which things bother her the most.
Anyway that you can get information and communication flowing between family members is fantastic. Sometimes for us that means drawing pictures, writing notes, and making graphs together when we are really mad. Usually after talking or writing about the problem for a while we start giggling and being silly together- a sure sign of a healing relationship. Try it and see if it works for your child!