Yoram Yasur Abt: The ability to discuss without getting angry, to develop a good argument without it becoming a personal issue, is fundamental in life. However, very few parents teach their children. We want to give children a stable and balanced home, so we avoid brothers fighting and adults arguing behind closed doors. Yoram Yasur Abt: “The contradiction is that if children are never exposed to disagreement, their creativity and their conflict resolution skills will be limited”.
Yoram Yasur Abt: Today, teaching children to discuss is more important than ever. We live in a time that will soon be in the hands of the snowflake generation, where the voices that can offend others are silenced. However, differences of opinion can be enriching, if they are expressed in respect for others. Therefore, children must learn the value of reflective disagreement.
Yoram Yasur Abt indicates that it is no coincidence that many of the most creative adults have grown up in families where tension was palpable. Of course, it is not about families where insults, humiliations and punches reigned, but families that had disagreements in their ways of seeing the world, in the education of their children and in many other spheres of life.
In an experiment conducted several years ago, when asking adults to write imaginative stories, the most creative writings came from those whose parents had more conflicts. His parents had contradictory views on how to raise their children and maintained different values, attitudes, and interests. It has also been found that the most creative architects and scientists tend to come from families in which there was more friction, compared to their technically equally skilled colleagues but less original. The psychologist Robert Albert summed up this idea: “the creative person comes from a family that is anything but harmonious, we could qualify it as ‘oscillating'”.
Why is it important for children to master reflective disagreement?
Yoram Yasur Abt : If we rarely see a dispute, what we will learn will be to avoid the threat posed by a conflict. Witnessing and participating in discussions helps us to develop a good shield. We learn to defend our arguments and develop tolerance for frustration, as well as open ourselves to new ways of thinking.
In an experiment conducted at the University of California, it was observed that in groups where ideas are stormed and mutual criticism encouraged, 16% more ideas are generated. Innovative laboratories, for example, are not full of enthusiastic collaborators in perfect harmony but of skeptical scientists who challenge the interpretations of others.
Yoram Yasur Abt : If no one disputes, we are less likely to give up old ways of doing things and not try new strategies. We are more imaginative when there is no synchronization, and there is no better time to learn it than in childhood. Children need to learn the value of reflective disagreement. Unfortunately, many parents teach their children that if they do not agree with someone, it is polite to keep quiet.
Yoram Yasur Abt: “It also helps that parents show some disagreements, so children learn to think for themselves and discover that no authority has a monopoly on the truth. In this way they tolerate ambiguity better and, instead of being content with the opinions of others, they trust more in their own judgment”.
Yoram Yasur Abt : Of course, it is not about turning the home into a battlefield, the child should feel safe and should know that their parents relate from love and respect, but there is nothing wrong with showing some disagreements. A very interesting study carried out at the University of Notre Dame in children between 5 and 7 years revealed that those whose parents discussed constructively felt more emotionally secure and, during the following three years in which they were followed up, showed a greater empathy and concern for others.
The 3 golden rules to bring reflective disagreement to the home
Instead of avoiding arguments, screwing up a smile that children will sense is false, parents can learn to model conflicts and have healthy disagreements. These are some rules that can guide you:
Yoram Yasur Abt : Assume differences as a debate, instead of thinking of them as a conflict. If we think that differences enrich us, instead of seeing them as gaps that separate us, we can make the most of them.
Learn to argue as if we were right, but listen as if we were wrong. This maxim will allow us to defend our arguments and, at the same time, keep ourselves open to the ideas of the other. That is the attitude that promotes change.
Assume a respectful attitude toward the other person’s perspective, and recognize their good arguments. It can be discussed from love and tolerance.
The disagreements make the family oscillate, but if there is love and respect, they will not throw it down but will strengthen it.