The Therapist Is In: Conflict Resolution for Toddlers

My kids are getting to an age where they are both fighting an awful lot. They fight over toys, over sippy cups, over chairs . . . you name it. India is just about to turn 2, and many times the fights are just completely illogical. For example: India was claiming that Jafta's blue blanket was hers (which she knows to be untrue and yet seems to enjoy the drama). Jafta, in his 3-year-old need for justice, argued just as vehemently that the blanket was, indeed, his own. This repeats itself, with various substitutions of content, all day, every day.

In an effort to quell the nonsensical fighting, I figured that Jafta, being eldest, was the more logical of the two. I decided to try to teach him the concept of "agreeing to disagree". I spent some intentional time with him talking about the fighting, and explaining that perhaps he could just end the fight by saying "we agree to disagree". I explained how this meant that he didn't agree with her, but he wasn't going to argue. We even practiced it a few times. Jafta kept saying it wrong (we agree to agree), but whatever. He got the concept. I thought.

So here is how the next episode went:

India puts Jafta's shoes on her feet)

Jafta: India, those are MY shoes!
India: They're mine! India's shoes.
Jafta: We agree to agree, India.
India: They're MINE!
India: They're MINE!
Jafta: (now screaming) WE AGREE TO AGREE, INDIA!!!
India: They're MINE!

lather. rinse. repeat.

So, yeah. There you have it. The family therapist explains conflict resolution for you. Bet you can't wait to try this one at home.

You're welcome.


  1. whew. thank you for this. I've been trying and trying everything. Now I just have to have this talk with Miles and watch the magic happen :)

  2. That is exactly how that would go down at my house too. This was yesterday's exchange between Logan and Callen:

    Logan: "Callen, are you so excited to take swimming lessons when you are three?"

    Callen: "I'm NOT three. I'm TWO!!!"

    Logan: "You will be three someday."

    Callen: "No, I'm TWO!"

    Logan: "You are two, but you WILL BE THREE!"

    Callen: [crying] "I'm two, Mogan, I'm two."

    Logan: [crying] "He's two, mama, but he will be three, right?"

    Me: "yes, Logan, but he doesn't understand so please just stop arguing with him."

    Callen: "I TWO, I TWO, I TWO!!!"

    Logan: [shouting to be heard over Callen] "BUT, HE WILL BE THREE, RIGHT?!"

    Don't you wish that you could be riding in the car too? There is nothing like confinded space to make these precious moments just a bit more fun. :)

  3. What Ali said.

    My four-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter have conversations like that ALL THE TIME.

    It's so peaceful when they are apart.

  4. HAHA! Ali, I just posted close to that SAME comment on Kristen's blog. Although it's NOT funny, I can't help but seriously crack up when they go through this routine. I usually end up whispering " you are two" to callen and "he will be three to logan." But who knew that we could have just told Logan to agree to disagree?
    Logan: we agree to disagree callen. But Miss Bonnie, he will be three right?
    Callen: Not free!

  5. You are hilarious! I guess you didn't think through what would happen when the other party to the conversation doesn't understand what "We agree to agree (or disagree" means?!

  6. You are hilarious! I guess you didn't think through what would happen when the other party to the conversation doesn't understand what "We agree to agree (or disagree)" means?!

  7. I sometimes try to make my girls play in seperate rooms just for a small break from all that. Oi.

  8. Sigh! Oh the magic our children teach us. I agree with Jafta. We agree to agree. I have been dealing with so much disagreeing in my life lately (unfortunately they aren't toddlers), that I really do just want to agree to agree for once! Seriously though, I agree to agree that we are all children of God, perfect creations of His. When we can remember this about each other, we really can agree to agree. Thanks for the lesson Jafta!

  9. Wow- it's refreshing to be reminded that I am not the only mom that deals with nonsensical fighting ALL...DAY...LONG. I've yet to come up with a good solution.
    Christy Norland


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