Bring your life into balance

Empathy works. It always does.

Mediation between kids


Friendship“Informal mediation is sticking your nose into other people’s business without being asked.” (Marshall Rosenberg)

I often do informal mediation between my two nanny kids, with more or less success. Today I applied what I just read in the Mediate Your Life manual. When you mediate on the spot, between two parties who didn’t ask you to do so, you make quick, short, snappy empathy guesses and you go back and forth without asking the other party to reflect.

This suggestion turns out to be very helpful.

My usual process is to spend minutes empathizing with one kid, before listening to the other -often leaving the one not listened to more and more agitated as they hear their sibling say things that are totally different from their experience. Today I ask Maya to tell me the most important thing she wants me to hear. I listen to her frustration and upset, I listen to her needs. I get her. Then I tell her that I’m gonna ask Kiran the most important thing he wants me to know, before I get back to her for her second message. She is willing to wait. Knowing that I’ll be back is enough reassurance that she’ll get the listening she wants.

So I listen to him. I hear his feelings and needs. I get him and tell him that I’ll listen to Maya’s second message, before I’ll return to him.

Maya asks what Kiran said. I tell her that I’m not doing that yet. That I first want to understand the most important things of both of them, one message at a time, before I ask for reflections and responses. She settles in. I empathize a little bit more with her frustration and upset. I get her need for fairness. She relaxes into the experience of listening and support and waits patiently for my return after my second Kiran-round.

Kiran doesn’t have a second message. He is ready to play.

When I come back to Maya, she has received so much listening, acceptance, connection, understanding and support that she, too, is ready for something else.

And off they go, to color pages.

Life is so sweet when you have the tools to mediate conflict.


You want to learn to mediate conflict? Contact me 512-589-0482. I think I can help!

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping mission-driven professionals bring their lives into balance. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I'm currently in an ICF-coaching certification program. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

2 thoughts on “Mediation between kids

  1. hi Iektje, I am happy you liked the tips. They always work, at least, as long as I am patient and unattached enough. I hope you have fun implementing them!

  2. These are great tips! I am going to try that next time Emma has a playdate!

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