Conflict is a part of life; we may try to avoid it but at some point, or another we will encounter conflicts in our daily life. In order to protect their children, parents may try to solve their kids’ problems by interfering with their interactions. However, by doing so, children do not learn conflict resolution skills and they learn to depend on others to solve their problems.
How to Handle Conflict
Although dealing with conflicts can be unpleasant, there are different ways to solve them and can make challenging situations more manageable. You can start to teach your children about conflicts from daily situations they encounter at home. For example, having two children who want to play with the same toy. Kids need to learn from a very young age how to compromise. You can tell them to compromise by saying they can play an hour each with the toy. It is also important to model compromising to them as children learn a lot through observing others.
Use Real-Life Situations
A situation where you can show them how to compromise is when you and your kids want to use the same electronic device such as tablets, laptop, phone, TV and PlayStation. Explain that sometimes you need to make priorities according to who will use the device first depending on what you need to use it for. Such as if one needs to make a school project and the other one wants to play, schoolwork will need to come first.
Conflicts also arise because people have disagreements and do not share the same opinions. This is okay, it is normal for people to disagree, and children need to learn this. Teach them to respect others, to say what they think without being offensive, to stay true to themselves and not simply agree with others to fit in with the majority. As cliché as it sounds, teach your kids that “we can agree to disagree”.
Developing Problem-Solving Skills
An important skill to learn since childhood is problem solving. This helps to deal with conflicts more effectively. First, they need to understand what the issue is. Then, they can start brainstorming different solutions to their problem. Younger kids may need more guidance whereas older children might want to discuss whether their solutions can be implemented or not. Sometimes they may try solutions which do not work out. Encourage them to not give up and try a different solution.
When they are upset about a conflict, children may feel angry and are unsure how to express their anger appropriately. They can talk about how they are feeling or channel their anger into another activity such as making a drawing, singing a song, skipping a rope or write in their journal.
In conclusion, it is important to raise children who can deal with a conflict, avoiding it is only a short-term solution. Growth can happen after tackling a conflict and learn from such experiences.
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Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.