Parenting Tips for How to Help Your Kids Resolve Conflict

halloween inspired post about parenting tips that teach kids how to resolve conflict

It’s Halloween time.

Two brothers are upset because one of the two pumpkins had to be thrown out. Brothers did what brothers do: argue. They both wanted the remaining pumpkin to be their pumpkin.

Their mother tried her best to encourage them to share, to reprimand them, and even threatened to take the pumpkin away from both of them.

No luck.

She was at her wits end. The kids arguing would not stop.

Parenting Tips and Tricks

Their father was brought up to speed later that day. Taking a different approach to his kids arguing, he waited for a calm moment to sit the boys down and asked them why the pumpkin was so important to each of them.

After some encouragement and assurance the older one explained that he wanted to carve the pumpkin by himself. He had spent time thinking about the carving and in preparation had even drawn it out on paper. It was going to be so cool!

The younger one, sniffling, explained that he wanted to bake the pumpkin seeds like his teacher told him about. They were going to be so good!

Their father listened intently.

And then he said:

“So, you want to carve the pumpkin. And you want the seeds so you can bake them. I wonder if there is a way for each of you to get what you want with the same pumpkin? What do you think?”

Later that night, the older son carved the pumpkin. As he gutted the pumpkin he carefully placed the seeds in to a bowl. His younger brother worked with his mother to clean, salt and bake them.

Parent as Mediator: Teaching Kids How to Resolve Conflict

In mediation, the pumpkin is an example of a position a client may bring in to the session. The carving and baking are the interests that the father helped his kids figure out. This father was a great mediator!

He asked some questions, listened, and helped the kids brainstorm solutions that met both of their needs. This is exactly what any effective mediator will do to help resolve family conflict.

Focusing on the pumpkin alone would never have resulted in a win-win solution.

In what ways do you focus too much on the “pumpkins” in your life?

Comment below to share your take-away from this story!



Tags: , , , ,

About the Author ()

I help families resolve conflict through family mediation and divorce mediation in Massachusetts. My services include mediation for co-parenting disputes, marriage problems, separation and divorce, parents and teenagers, and family conflicts. The goal of my mediator's blog is to help teach or remind readers of helpful communication and conflict resolution techniques that can be used in their relationships. I live in Natick, MA with my wife, son and dog and mediate throughout the Metrowest Boston region. Please note that my name is spelled Ben Stich, not Ben Stitch.

Enter your email address to subscribe to Ben's blog:
Privacy guaranteed. We never share your info.

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anne Lafleur says:

    Love that story. Those are proud parenting moments, when we have the wherewithal to take a deep breath and listen to our kids’ interests when we may be tempted to just send them to their rooms and throw the darned pumpkin away!

    On that same subject (sort of) let me add a shameless plug for the LifeResults seminar coming up in Natick in a few weeks, which offers some fantastic, practical tools for managing our own impatience, fear and negativity so we can be more present to the people we love. More info at, or email LifeResultsBoston at There are also free sample classes next Tues and Wed evenings. 🙂

    • Ben Stich says:

      I think many of us would have the impulse to throw the pumpkin away! Not a shameless plug, Anne. Based on what you’ve shared with me this seminar can be exceptionally powerful and transforming — I know it was for you. Good luck sorting the candy Thursday night!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *