Confrontation and conflict is a part of life. Though there are many ways to handle it, not all of them are beneficial, or healthy. Helping guide your child through healthy conflict can have a lasting effect on them, and give a solid foundation of conflict resolution at an early age. Let’s take a look at some ways you can help your child work through conflict without having to fight.
Teach Them to Talk About it
Oftentimes, kids will confide in a parent or authority figure before talking with the individual they have confrontation with. “Mom, they took my toy away from me” or “Dad, it’s my turn and they won’t share”. In the midst of child-to-child confrontation, take your little one back to the other and encourage them to talk through it with the other child. This is also an effective way of teaching them to verbalize how your child feels in those situations, which can result in effective resolution. Identifying feelings, especially in conflict, is extremely helpful in navigating the situation– primarily, teaching them that it’s okay to feel certain emotions, though it should never lead to disrespect.
Calm Down Time
In instances where the argument or confrontation is particularly heated, encourage space to decompress from the conflict. Allowing time to cool off can be one of the biggest ways to diffuse an intense situation, regardless of age. Encourage space, have each one count and take deep breaths, and come back together once they are less frustrated. When there is intense emotion involved, it’s unlikely that there will be reason in the midst of it all, let alone reach any solution. Once the sparks stop flying, have them come back together and practice the first step of talking about it.
As parents, we become a sort of situation mitigator, primarily in the field of confrontation. This commonly starts early on and can follow them into adult life if not handled properly. One of the best ways to give an example of this is looking at someone who’s passive aggressive in their confrontation. Let’s say a man has an issue with a coworker or family member, but rather than giving himself time to process what makes him angry and communicate it, he addresses authority on the matter. Though he may believe he is being more discreet by not “stirring the pot”, by not addressing the issue and being honest with what’s bothering him, he continues to get frustrated, making the issue bigger than is probably necessary.
These types of situations can be taught to be handled better earlier on by simply teaching your child to take responsibility for how they feel by taking a breath, and expressing their concern, hurt, frustration, etc, to the other child once their calm. Encourage a soft tone, kind words, and the statements like “this hurt me because…”. Oftentimes, the solution to the situation will be pretty simple. Do your best encourage the children to work it out rather than stepping in to solve it for them.
In the instance of your child being the one to be confronted, teach them the art of active listening. Typical of anyone addressed in a confrontation is the act of being defensive, “but they made me…”, “but I had to share when…”, “It wasn’t…” and so on. When this starts, step in and stop them, reminding them that they are to listen to the individual confronting them first. Everyone wants to be heard in situations where they are hurt or frustrated, and it’s important that each child has the opportunity to express their point of view and be heard. Failing to teach these skills early on will create unhealthy, bottled-up, and often, angry individuals. This can lead to poor communication/conflict resolution skills. Because we know confrontation is part of life, implementing these practices early on will potentially help mitigate and diffuse situations later on in life.
These are just a few practices you can start to work on with your child at home. Resurrection Christian School is passionate about providing a healthy, solid foundation for your child to thrive and become a healthy individual. We are focused on being boldly Christian, academically equipping and globally preparing your child for their future. Schedule a tour today to become part of the Resurrection family, your local private Christian school for Windsor, Fort Collins, and Loveland. Check back with us for a few more tips on how to help cultivate a healthy way to handle confrontation.