As children grow older, and we adults know this to be true, they are faced with many challenges. One of these challenges is dealing with conflict. Conflict can manifest in many forms. It can be a disagreement with parents, a fight with siblings, a misunderstanding among friends, or an altercation with strangers. And, thanks to the power of social media, conflicts are common on Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat.
As adults, we are quick to intervene and stop children whenever there is any sign of conflict building. But, what we should be doing is monitoring and coaching them on how to handle the conflict.
Sadly, conflict is a fact of life and learning how to respond to it is extremely important during the developmental years. If you think for a moment, I bet you know someone that comes to mind that really stands out as not handling conflict well. Many situations involving conflict early in life, center around being teased, bullied, and peer relationships. But, as they grow older, they may face moral decisions that are extremely difficult due to peer pressure. This is why we want to emphasize the importance of teaching kids how to navigate, resolve, and ask for help when conflict arises.
The only way to teach conflict management is to model it well and help them when they are presented with a difficult situation. Also, help them understand that what they see around them, on the internet, movies, television, or the media, is not necessarily the proper way to handle a situation. Below are a few tips that will help.
No matter the age of your child, carve out some one-on-one time with them each day. Yes, you may be busy and tired, but it’s important. Research has suggested by spending 20 minutes of quality one on one time with a child, drastically reduces aggressive behavior.
Find alternate ways for your child to express they need attention. Often times, kids will act out to receive your attention. Praise them often for their good behavior and choices, but reprimand them consistently the opposite.
Help your child understand the meaning of empathy. Have a discussion about other people’s perspectives and feelings. It’s easy to lash out, but it’s difficult to consider their point of view. Assist them in recognizing emotions other people are exhibiting.
Listen to understand, not to reply. This is one of the most difficult things to do, but with coaching and practice, it can be accomplished. We recommend you do not give your child a solution, but help them negotiate one themselves.
Lastly, utilize positive reinforcement to promote good behavior. Do not yell, curse, or physically punish your child. This is counterintuitive to what you are trying to prevent.
By utilizing the above information, and your own independent research, we believe you can help your child navigate the difficulties of conflict. Don’t be the parent running to their defense each time a situation arises, rather the one that coaches and helps them understand.