Let’s face it, there will come a time when your kids disagree with other children and as much as you want to intervene, you know that this time, you have to step back and let them resolve the conflict for themselves. Helping your children learn how to effectively deal with disagreements is very important. Here are a few strategies that can help.
When my son was born, as a new parent I knew that I would protect him forever. However, that time came when I knew that I had to step back and let him resolve conflict with one of his friend’s on his own. They were having a playdate at my house so I was able to monitor the situation. However, I had to resist the urge to go in and rescue them from the disagreement. So instead, I listened to them from the living room. They were able to come to an amicable solution and their playdate continued.
After the other child left, I commended my son for being such a good host for his friend. We also started talking about different ways to manage conflict. Over the years, his conflict resolution skills have improved even more and now I’m sharing how we taught our children about dealing with conflict and I’m sure it will be helpful for you, as well.
Teach them about keeping their cool
Sometimes, children who don’t have well developed vocabulary get very angry and may even lash out when they feel that they are being mistreated or are not being heard. The first thing that you want to teach your child about conflict resolution is to how to keep their cool. Explain to them the importance of remaining calm. You might even want to help them identify how they know that they are angry. For example, they may experience a knot in their stomach, their fists may clench, or their face may get hot. Discuss all of this so that your children know that when they are feeling these symptoms, it’s probably time to go into conflict resolution mode. My kids and I sometimes do role plays so that they know exactly what to do when situations that make them angry arise. That may be something that you want to try. And you’ll obviously want to make sure that you model calmness during your own times of conflict as well. Remember, your kids are watching you.
Help them use their words
Remind your kids about the importance of using their words. A good way to help explain this is to get books about anger to read together with your kids. These books generally have some really good phrases that your kids can use to help them express their feelings with others. Encourage your kids to use their words to explain to their friends, siblings, cousins, peers, or anyone else who they are having conflict with what is bothering them and why.
Encourage them to listen
Explain to your kids that after they express their concerns that they should then permit the other person to express how they are feeling too. Let your children know that it’s okay and even appropriate that each person gets a chance to speak.
Come up with a solution
After everyone involved gets a chance to speak, then it’s time to figure out a solution that everyone is happy with. Encourage your kids to negotiate coming up with a solution. Usually when kids put their heads together, they can come up with some pretty good solutions. However, you should monitor this process whenever possible because it’s important that your kids aren’t overly passive but still willing to compromise.
Getting help with bullies
Emphasize to your kids that bullying is never okay. Let your children know that if they are ever bullied or know of someone who is being bullied, that they should get help from an adult right away.