The Opposite of COMBAT: "C" is for Contracting

Technique: “C” is for Contracting. This is the fun part, the culmination of all your hard work! Each child should commit to the terms of the agreement. Usually, a sincere verbal contract should do it, but signing a clear and precise written contract adds solemnity to the occasion. Or each child could write out a short letter to the other detailing what they are promising to do (or not do) and give it to the sibling. Putting it in their own writing provides the kids with another kind of mental walk-through. (This could help an impulsive child to curb his or her behavior.) In closing, congratulate the kids and thank them for their time and effort, their honesty – whatever seems appropriate to you.  And by the way, congrats to you too -- you're a mediator!

Tip: For kids too young to read, or when one of them isn't reading yet, they can make a picture illustrating what they agreed to. If you have one reader and one non-reader, the younger one could supply the illustrations and the older one could write down the terms. Collaboration, wahoo!

Q: Dear Susie – Would it be OK if I wrote you a description of a whole mediation? It went sideways in a couple of different aspects, and didn't end very satisfactorily. I'm not sure what I could have done differently...

A: Dear Parent – I would love that! It takes guts to share our not-so-shining moments. I think we can all learn a lot reading what you have to say. And perhaps I can offer a tip or two about how to avoid getting derailed. ( sure to notice in the coming days whether things have gotten better since the mediation. Sometimes just unpacking the issues and feelings is enough, despite a mediation that isn't picture-perfect.)

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