Teaching Your Child to Deal with Conflict

5 min to read
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Mention “conflict” in the context of school kids and “bully” often comes to mind. Tormenters are the most visible and talked-about sources of student conflict, but tension can also come in other forms. 

Managed properly, conflict can be constructive. Disagreements help students find ways to work together, gain new perspectives, re-think old ideas and conceptions, and strengthen interpersonal relationships. 

But to keep arguments from boiling over into destructive events, conflict resolution skills for kids should be kept top of mind as an educational goal.  

Those skills will serve students well throughout their lives. The first step in helping students master these skills is understanding their emotions and help them see how feelings can affect the outcome of a quarrel. Students who learn to control their emotions can resolve squabbles before they deteriorate. 

What Are the Warning Signs That Call for Bullying Conflict Resolution?

Bullies and disruptive kids are unfortunate features of many classrooms and schoolyards. Homeschool kids are largely free from them. But bullies can still stalk playgrounds, social events and online platforms. Cyberbullies use the Internet to incite fear through threats and intimidation by posting degrading photos or circulating rumors and, while it’s not always easy to see the warning signs of bullying, you can reassure your student that skills for resolving conflicts are within their reach.  

Why Is It Important to Teach Conflict Resolution Strategies for Students?

Conflict is an unavoidable part of life, and it can begin early. A toddler who takes away a toy from another youngster is an example of an interpersonal conflict. In older children, it often presents in disagreements, arguments, or other forms of confrontation.    

Since no one can expect everything to go their way all the time, it is important to instill conflict resolution strategies for students early. 

A group of online students talk through their conflicts.

5 Steps to Conflict Resolution for Kids

The earlier that children can learn how to manage disputes, the sooner they begin cultivating their emotional intelligence, which factors into conflict prevention and tolerance. This model can help students resolve conflicts on their own:

  1. STOP. Don’t let things get out of control. Take a step back and try to calm down, since anger makes conflicts more difficult to resolve. 
  2. SAY what the conflict is about. Make sure you both have a clear understanding of what is causing the disagreement and clarify what each of you wants or doesn’t want. 
  3. THINK of positive options. What’s a fair solution that meets both of your needs? 
  4. CHOOSE a positive option that everyone can agree on. 
  5. RESPECT the opinions of others, even if you can’t agree.  

Effective conflict resolution also requires children to remain positive, patient, and sincere. Some tips on what NOT to do include:  

  • Resorting to name-calling 
  • Using physical violence 
  • Interrupting the other person 
  • Refusing to listen 
  • Insulting someone’s intelligence 

What Are Some Conflict Resolution Activities?

Family and peer activities can help students learn how to handle conflict in a controlled way. Some activities that can help children learn how empathy, communication, and self-esteem work in conflict prevention and emotional resilience include:  

  • Play games. Games have rules, and rules are great for starting disputes. Working through a “questionable call” without getting emotional is the foundation of conflict resolution. 
  • Create something. A writing or art exercise that involves a problem and solution encourages kids to share how they resolve conflicts and learn how other’s do it. 
  • Put on a play. Students can write their own scripts or collaborate on a story about what caused a dispute and how the various players contributed to its resolution.  

For more tips on preventing bullies from home, have your student take our kindness pledge

Students finding common ground through conflict resolution strategies for teens.

What Are Special Conflict Resolution Strategies for Teens?

As kids move up the academic ladder, they can start putting pressure on themselves to achieve. That pressure can cause stress, and stress leads to an inner conflict as potentially harmful as a run-in with a bully.  

Stress can present as mood swings, acting out, physical ailments, or a sudden change in school performance, either external or a self-imposed pressure to achieve academic perfection. Parents can help their students resolve that internal conflict by encouraging them to:  

  • Work on challenging, yet realistic tasks that match their ability.  
  • Develop skills in order to attain an appropriate challenge.  
  • Increase the challenge to a proper level when work is too easy. (If a student is only working to perfect something, they are not getting the most out of that particular assignment, paper, or project.) 

Also, remind your student that conflict can be constructive if they remember it can help them: 

  • Learn more about yourself and your set of beliefs and values. 
  • Build self-confidence and understand how to express and assert yourself. 
  • Develop solid communication and negotiation skills. 
  • Accept criticism gracefully and be open to new ideas. 
  • Understand when to stand up for your beliefs and when to reevaluate them. 
  • Choose your battles wisely. 
  • Respect the views of others, whether or not you agree with them. 
  • Strengthen relationships with others by finding common ground. 

Explore the Power of School Choice

Developing these dispute-resolution skills helps children become more positive, productive, and kind, and less anxious and stressed. Treating others—and themselves—with respect and compassion is something that everyone should aspire to do. And it can help children avoid unnecessary conflict.  

Sometimes a bullying scenario needs to be cut off to be resolved. And a change in the school environment, like transferring to an online school, might be the best solution for your student. Embrace your power of school choice and learn about the differences in schools, especially between traditional brick-and-mortar schools and online schools, and see if it’s the right fit for your family today.

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