Dealing with conflict can be hard to navigate, especially for your child. Children have not yet learned how to manage their emotions and built up emotions can make it difficult for children to think about what they need to do when conflict arises. It’s important to help your child understand their emotions and what conflict resolution looks like so they can feel prepared when it happens.
The first step is helping your child understand their emotions. If they’re feeling angry and can’t control their emotions, it could result in more conflict. A good way to help them understand how they are feeling could be through a feelings chart, pictures, flashcards, or helping them name different emotions and have them explain what those emotions feel like and mean to them. Teaching your child that they can feel more than one emotion at a time can be helpful for them as they navigate what to do in a conflict.
Next, teach your child some calming techniques for when they’re facing conflict. If emotions are too high, the child is going to have a harder time resolving the issue at hand. Teach your child some deep breathing techniques and tell them to count to ten a couple of times, or until they feel more relaxed. Make sure they also know that it’s okay for them to take a break and walk away from a situation if they need to. This allows them time to calm down and think about solutions.
What Started the Conflict
Once your child understands how they’re feeling and they know what they need to do to calm down, it’s important to help them understand what started the conflict. Younger kids especially can have a difficult time understanding why they may be arguing or fighting with someone. Talking to them about what happened and navigating what led to the conflict can help you and your child figure out what to do next.
Think Of Solutions
When thinking about solutions to conflict, it’s helpful for your child to have some guidance from an adult. Have them suggest a few solutions to you and discuss what you think would or wouldn’t work best. When dealing with conflict, it can be difficult to know what the best solution really is. Let your child know that uncertainty okay and it may take some trial and error to come to a solution – that’s just part of the process! Let your child know that the most important thing in a conflict is that they are making their best effort.
Understanding Other Viewpoints
Another tip for helping your child deal with conflict is having them understand where the other person is coming from. Try asking them to put themselves in the other person’s shoes. This can help your child understand empathy and consider what a better solution might be for solving the problem. Also, try having them gain a wider perspective by thinking beyond the incident that led to the conflict and considering the time or place the conflict happened. This will help them understand the situation more fully and consider the other person’s feelings.
Lastly, it’s important to help your child communicate their feelings effectively, without lashing out or immediately blaming the other person. When emotions are running high, this can be difficult. Help your child understand that lashing out will only make the situation worse. Telling them to use “I” statements when talking about their feelings will dissuade them from making accusations. Also, practicing conflict resolution while not in the middle of conflict is a good way to help your child feel prepared when conflict does happen. Role-playing or writing out talking points allows time to think more thoroughly and get their point across effectively.
Practicing these tips with your child is a powerful way for them to learn conflict resolution. Help your child understand that it may take a couple times before they get it right and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way. Once they practice more, they’ll begin to understand that solving conflict is doable, even if it’s hard sometimes.
To learn more about conflict resolution go to: https://childmind.org/article/teaching-kids-how-to-deal-with-conflict/
Leslie Hamman, MSW,LSW
Social Worker, Chillicothe City School District
740.775.4250 Ext. 16172