In any relationship, conflict is inevitable. Husbands and wives disagree over how to handle money. Kids argue over toys. In churches, members can’t decide how to remodel the sanctuary. When conflict isn’t dealt with, anger simmers and turns into rage or bitterness. It’s not always easy to confront conflict. Many adults don’t know how to positively resolve conflict, which makes it hard to be a role model to their kids. Here are some tips about resolving conflict for kids. The best part is that adults can use the same techniques.
Conflict Isn’t Always Bad
Conflict usually refers to a serious disagreement, but it can simply be an incompatibility. Conflict can help you define your priorities. When you find yourself fighting for something, you almost have to ask yourself if this is a hill worth dying on. Disagreements can really help you prioritize what you stand for. When conflict occurs because of a wrong-doing, it can lead to growth. Handling conflict well makes you a better person.
Know How You Respond to Conflict
Some people try to escape from conflict. They might pretend that conflict doesn’t exist or run away from the other person. Another escape mechanism is to blame others for the problem. These responses to conflict delay healing. It might be okay to get away from someone in the moment, but the conflict is going to remain until it is dealt with.
Others try to win the fight instead of resolving it. This can damage a relationship instead of healing it. These are called attack responses:
- Using physical force to get your way
- Using harsh and cruel words to attack someone
- Talking about others behind their backs
Sometimes, a combination of both types of responses are used. Someone may pretend that conflict doesn’t exist by saying to the other person that everything is fine, but then gossip to a third party.
Once you know how you respond to conflict, you can change to a better response. You can change your natural tendencies of avoidance or anger to a more effective method.
Good Ways to Respond to Conflict
One positive way to deal with conflict is to overlook the offense. You decide to forgive without confronting or talking to the other person. It’s not easy to forgive, but you can be the better person. Of course, this means that you aren’t going to gossip or try to hurt someone else. You have to let the offense go, as if it never happened.
If you can’t overlook someone’s offense, go directly to them and talk about it. It’s important to learn to use “I” statements so that you don’t blame them. You can say, “I feel bad when you don’t listen to me.” Focus on the behavior. Say what you want, instead of saying what you don’t want. For example, “I need to you look at me when we’re talking.”
Some children may need to get adult help to decide how to handle conflict. You should let your child know that you want to help them work things out, but you want them to be involved. Parents should let kids handle conflict when possible. When kids learn that they can work things out, they grow up with confidence that they can handle it as a adult.
You Can Only Do Your Part
Some people are just unreasonable. Not every conflict will be resolved positively. It’s important to teach your child to act right, even when other people aren’t willing to deal with things. If you’ve tried to talk to someone and they aren’t responsive, respect those boundaries. Give the person space. You don’t know what they’re going through.
Encourage peacemaking. Small disagreements can turn into huge conflicts when left unchecked.