Deciding Games

2 Jun

Building conflict resolution skills for children …. that’s one of my favorite things to blog about.

Last October, my colleague, Dr. Bob Quilitch, a Reno psychologist, suggested that I write about Teen Timer Talks, a technique he uses for with teenage girls to structure how they have conversation with each other when in conflict.

‘Deciding Games’ is another technique that he uses to help children avoid fighting and foster positive peer relationships.

He described it to me as ‘cooperative learning’ even in a competitive environment.

You have heard me say it before … conflict is inevitable … especially with kids. It’s how we handle it that makes a difference.

Dr. Bob’s approach is to show adults how to teach children another way to ‘settle’ disputes, such as who gets to play first in a game, gets the preferred seat in the car or selects the desired TV channel.

Here’s where the parent gathers the children in dispute to ask them the ‘Magic Question’ … please note it’s open ended:

“What would be a fair way to decide who gets to ………..?”

Rock, Paper, ScissorsThis is a good opportunity to talk about the concept of ‘fairness.’  “That’s not fair” is the frequent compliant of children objecting to some decisions. The answer to this question can turn the fight into a game, one which all of the children think is ‘fair.’

The adult can make suggestions, but the kids decide on the game – flipping a coin, rolling a die, choosing from sticks of unequal length, drawing from a deck of cards, or playing Rock-Paper-Scissors. Such games give each child an equal chance of winning.

What are the advantages of playing such a ‘Deciding Game‘?

  • The children’s focus is distracted from their spat to the game
  • Children learn to settle their own conflicts, without adults
  • It encourages less tattling to parents
  • It promotes cooperation
  • It reinforces the importance of a decision’s fairness to all

Thanks Dr. Bob for another great tip to empower children and help their parents too!








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