HELPING YOUR CHILD TO RESOLVE CONFLICT
1. Educating your child to deal with conflict
Conflict is a part of everyday life and one will always be confronted with the possibility of disagreements taking place. Educating your child from an early age how to resolve conflict has numerous benefits and allows their character to develop in many ways. The conflict resolution wheel presented below help teach children how to deal with confrontation. The wheel displays a variety of options on how they can navigate circumstances presenting conflict. Your child then chooses which option they think will be most applicable to the situation. The options are, to walk away, talk it out, share and take turns, make a deal, wait and cool off, apologize, go to another game or talk to a grown-up. Many alternative behaviours can be displayed on the wheel, this tool allows parents to change and adapt it to their specific needs and ideas.
The key is to first familiarize your child with the choices displayed on the wheel. Once they have a better understanding of the options, role-playing different confrontational scenarios will be the next step. It will help put into action what they have learned and encourage them to choose the best-suited option when faced with conflict. Alongside the conflict resolution wheel, it will be useful to have an emotion chart which displays all the different types of emotions young children can identify with. This visual representation will not only help develop their emotional vocabulary but when referring to the chart after every confrontational scenario it allows them to identify their own emotions felt during the event as well as the possible emotions experienced by the other person. Thus, improving their ability to empathize and enhancing overall emotional insight.
There are several benefits of educating your child to deal with conflict from an early age. A few of these will be briefly discussed below:
2.1. Identifying and controlling their emotions
Over time your child will find it easier to identify his/her emotions during difficult circumstances. Having a greater understanding of their feelings will encourage self-control and prevents immediate emotional reactions but forces them to try and identify alternative solutions.
2.2. Changes the perception of conflict
Many perceive conflict as being a bad thing, but unfortunately, this is a misperception. Should a resolution be found it will not be necessary for feelings of frustration or anger to be prevalent. Compromising and attaining a mutual understanding will teach your child to take other people’s needs into account and allow them to work together with others effectively.
2.3. Teamwork and respect
Compromising teaches your child what it means to work as a team, developing patience, tolerance, empathy and respect towards others.
2.4. Recognizing that people are different
Conflict teaches children that people are different. Not all individuals share the same background, ideas, thoughts, behaviour and reactions when faced with a particular situation.
2.5. Developing social skills
Confrontation or conflict may challenge your child’s social skills. They learn how to communicate more effectively and develop the ability to express their own needs towards others.
2.6. Develop independence to find solutions
The more your child is encouraged from a young age to find solutions to a problem the more it will enhance their independence. Thus, allowing your child to gain confidence, self-discipline as well as self-trust.
3. When to get involved
It is easy for parents to get involved and manage conflict on behalf of their children, especially when it takes place at home amongst siblings. Knowing when to intervene is very important, if done at the wrong time it may risk the possibility of influencing their learning process. The key is to teach your child to gain control during conflict, although it might be difficult or uncomfortable. Even though parents may decide to intervene less at the appropriate time, their children will always know that they have a safe space to share anything with their parents and that they will continuously be there to support, guide and lead them throughout life.