Conflict is a natural, everyday occurrence between children. Through conflict, children learn to exercise self-control and establish boundaries. For this to happen, parents, teachers and others with whom a child interacts should model resolution skills. If a child has a sibling, the first instances of conflict will undoubtedly start in the home environment. These conflicts can be the most ardent because siblings are in tight proximity to each other, both emotionally and physically.
Demonstrating Resolution Skills
Because family life is the blueprint for how children will behave in the outside world, it is crucial that parents exhibit reciprocity and sharing, good listening skills and tolerance. These behaviors can be modified for children of any age and demonstrated as the need arises. For instance, if your children are arguing over what movie to watch, you can step in and suggest that they find one movie that they can enjoy together. If they are older children, suggest that they try to find other solutions that would be agreeable to both.
When conflict between children occurs outside the home, it generally begins in a school setting. Parents can head off potential problems by encouraging children to talk about their friends and what activities they are engaged in each day. Encourage your child to invite friends over and try to stay involved in your child’s school as much as you can. Volunteering at your child’s school offers insight on how your child is interacting with peers and how effective the teachers and other staff members are in dealing with conflicts.
Anger management is key to good communication and can help resolve many conflicts. Teaching anger management need not be tedious or pedantic. According to the National Youth Violence Campaign, teachers and counselors can work together to encourage activities such as role-playing, writing or art projects, and organizing in-class forums/panels as creative mechanisms of releasing anger in productive ways.
Bullying can have a lifetime effect on a child’s emotional and psychological well-being. The act of bullying can push children to consider suicide. If the bullying is severe, a parent needs to involve the school faculty, counselor or a school psychologist.
Suggestions and Advice
In order for your children to gain self-confidence and independence, they should be encouraged to handle conflict on their own. Parents can’t save their children every time someone says or does something mean, but parents can provide advice. Suggest to your children to stay out of the path of a bully. If that is not possible, recommend acting brave even if fear is the true emotion. Children who bully others are often testing the waters to see how another child responds. If they don't detect fear, they're likely to back down. Another possible solution is for your children to find friends who can stick by them if they absolutely have to be around a bully, either because of a classroom situation or an outside activity. The buddy system can work well in those instances.
Conflict between children and the resolution of it is a constant, ongoing process. Though sometimes painful to go through, conflict can strengthen a child’s self-esteem. Your child will learn that conflict is a part of life that must be dealt with. Learning to approach conflict with objective, thoughtful responses is the best path to take toward becoming a mature, tolerant individual.