February 20, 2018

Helping Kids Resolve Conflict

Helping Kids Resolve ConflictOne of the toughest parent assignments we have is helping kids resolve conflict. Starting at an early age, we realize these babes are not born with any conflict resolution skills. Considering “mine” is right up there on one of the first words they learn. We know from that, we are going to need to be on top of handling conflict resolution skills.

Each development phase has its own unique characteristics. But there is definitely one commonality at every age and that is communication. It is important to start them off with the right skills to effectively and kindly speak to us as their parents, to their siblings, and ultimately to their playmates. Here is a warning in a wonderful article on how modern technology can effect good communication and a launching point on where to start teaching them.

Our children communicate differently than we do. When communicating face to face, more than 90% of it is done nonverbally. (Think: tone, body stance, facial expression.) Our children are not learning to read the nonverbals because so much of their communicating is through texting, social networking, and email. We know how easy it can be to misunderstand the intent of an email, since we are guessing that tone and emotion of it.

We need to make sure our children are learning to express their feelings appriopriately with “I feel” statements and teaching them skills to work through conflict. They need to learn that conflicts are inevitable but they can often make a relationship stronger when they take the time to really work through the issues. Many kids have never been taught how to take ownership of their emotions and find respectful ways to express them. Too often the emotions overflow and the child either starts a fight, or yelling or crying. Schools often will not be able to take the time to get to the heart of the issue and will just punish and suspend the child that acted out. Read full article.

This tweet supports the communication theory.

Once we get them to talk, not holler, shout or name call, about the conflict, we will next want to direct them in what they can say to work towards a healthy resolution.

Here is a loose order of how to get started:

1. State what happened in facts and without exaggeration.

2. Listen without interrupting to how the other person saw what happened.

3. Be kind and polite. No sarcasm or assumptions.

4. State how the interaction made you feel using I feel words. DO NOT say I feel you did this because you hate me. That is how they feel.

5. Apologize if necessary.

6. Then move on. Find another activity to do together, go play with another person, etc. NO gossiping or rumor starting allowed! It is finished.

Here is a cute rap video made by some girls that sum up these ideas.

Sometimes helping kids resolve conflict becomes bigger than the above list of ideas. A school in Hawaii has developed a peer mediation program for just such situations. Here is their focus.

The Peer Mediation Program is a proactive student focused program that trains students how to help other students resolve relationship conflicts without being  judgmental. They help with conflicts concerning bullying, damaging rumors, peer pressure, disagreements and other relationship issues.” Click here for story.

Helping kids resolve conflict is not as hard as it sounds. Start early, keep the guidelines clear and be ready to train and retrain as life will offer many opportunities to hone their conflict resolution skills!

About the author: By

Julie is an awesome parent (along with her husband Matt) to five adopted kiddos and the owner of the Parenting Allies website.

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Disclaimer: We are not psychologists, counselors, or therapists. We are parents of children with special challenges, and the techniques, tools, and programs we recommend on this website have worked for us on our parenting journey.

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