Conflict resolution is an important topic with kids and adults alike. Volumes of books have been written about how to resolve conflict in business situations, family relationships, and other situations. Courts recommend lawyers hiring a “mediator" to resolve and negotiate conflicts between parties in civil cases before the case goes to court. There is a great need for conflict resolution in our society. The same is true for kids. They need to learn early how to deal positively with conflict so that they can learn to work out their differences.
How do we teach kids to resolve conflict themselves, without the help of a third party?
Here are a few ideas:
1) Conflict is Not Always Bad. Even though conflict can be unpleasant, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Conflict is bound to happen between friends and loved ones due to basic differences in personality, opinions and beliefs. Instead of avoiding conflict, teach children coping and social skills, such as active listening, empathy and compromise.
2) Show by Example. If you illustrate positive conflict-resolution skills within your family at home, they will be more likely to emulate these themselves. Show that you value positive relationships by practicing a positive, proactive approach to conflict.
3) Show Through Drama. There are some good conflict-resolution videos available if you search online for this. School counselors may sometimes have some of these in their possession which you may borrow upon request, or the parent center may offer similar resources.
4) Get Involved in Community Organizations. Some community organizations teach conflict-resolution for young people or offer classes to young people and adults on how to effectively negotiate with others with opposing views. Look into this by contacting your local PTO or community outreach centers.
5) Seek Help from Professionals When Needed. If conflict between your child and peers becomes serious, don’t be afraid to reach out. Counselors and therapists are ready and willing to help when the need arises. Don’t let the problems get out of hand before taking action.
6) Teach Kids to Take Responsibility for Their Actions and Have Empathy for Others. This is an important aspect of understanding where the other person is coming from and taking control of their behavior.
With a little help, conflict can be resolved in a low stress, amicable manner. Work with your child to teach skills that will benefit them and get involved in organizations that focus on this goal. Positive conflict-resolution and negotiation with other parties is a skill your child will use for a lifetime. Start now to build these skills and it will pay off in the long run.