No-lose Conflict Resolution (Method III)

By Chapter 11 (pp.194-264) of Parent Effectiveness Training, I think it's fair to say that Gordon has built up a fair amount of expectation about the magic approach to resolving the conflicts that active listening and I-messages have not solved. Unsurprisingly, the method is not some astonishing revelation, more the simple process of;

  • parent and child collaboratively working on the problem, as equals
  • generating possible solutions
  • discussing, evaluating and deciding on a solution
  • both parties implementing the solution that they have been part of

Putting the obvious 'but's to one side, this is a clear, effective articulation of basic conflict negotiation. It is, as Gordon says, exactly the approach used in business, international affairs and elsewhere. Yes, you may have difficulty finding a solution, no it won't always work, but it's a fine start. The key here is that Gordon is recommending a egalitarian, creative, negotiation-based approach to resolving conflict – and that is the heart of what PET is about. It was news in the seventies, and sadly it is still news now.

While Gordon does follow up with some supporting advice, addresses concerns many parents have, and provides numerous models, this is still a bare boned presentation of the technique. If you are looking for more detail on HOW to generate possible solutions, or HOW to decide on one, you will need to look elsewhere.

In summary, he takes a while to get there, and there is nothing revolutionary about the destination. But Gordon clearly and convincingly makes the case for a relationship-based approach to raising kids that is still a long way from the typical, so there is still a valid place for PET as a text worth reading.

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