Arguments and disagreements naturally erupt whenever people share space and lives. While disruptive, these instances can provide a great opportunity to teach empathy and the ability to understand a different perspective.
Stop! Stop all the talking or shouting. Everyone stops and becomes still and silent as a statue.
Hop in the other person’s shoes — Yep, you read that right. Have the two people arguing silently take off their shoes and swap ’em. (This immediately brings levity to what can be a fiery situation for all involved. If the shoes don’t fit at all, all the better! If the children are unwilling, ask them to sit down silently in front of their shoes instead.)
Open your ears: Share that before anyone opens their mouth, they need to open their ears. Explain that — they’re literally standing in someone else’s shoes — now it’s time to listen to what and how they’re feeling and why. (Remind everyone involved that they will get an opportunity to be shared — and be heard, too — regardless of who shares first.)
Explore a compromise: After each person has shared — and been respectfully heard — encourage all involved to explore a compromise. Explain that a compromise is when everyone receives and gives a little. Share that it may not mean that they get everything they want, but no one does. And that’s okay because we’re not the only people in the world. There’s lots of people with a variety of different feelings, perspectives, and needs — and lots of different shoes we should try to imagine ourselves in, too.
When a compromise is reached, those involved may not be happy about it. Share that that’s okay. It’s absolutely okay to not be happy all the time. Then, allow the children to swap shoes back. While they put their own shoes back on, explain that sadly we don’t live in a perfect world. Life is just not fair sometimes. But thankfully, we serve a God who is. And He loved us enough to send help to us — His Son, Jesus — even when we didn’t deserve it. Jesus loves us without compromise. His love is bigger than any wrong we have or ever can make. Jesus’ love has overcome everything!
After completing this activity, read through the following verse and prayer with your child.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
Romans 5:8 (NLT)
Dear Heavenly Father,
We live in a broken world that can be unfair. Thank You for Your perfect love and promise to always be with us. Help us to remember that nothing is bigger or stronger than Your love.
In Jesus’ name, amen.