Teach children to resolve conflict peacefully

Earlier assets addressed the importance of establishing boundaries and the need for young children to have clear rules and consequences spelled out for them. These boundaries need to be consistent in their home, school and neighborhood. Asset #36 addresses the subject of conflict. 

Parents need to behave in acceptable, nonviolent ways and assist children in developing these skills by helping them solve problems when they are faced with challenging or frustrating circumstances. Parents and other adults need to model positive ways to resolve conflicts. Children need to be taught and be able to practice nonviolent, acceptable ways to deal with challenging and frustrating situations.

How parents handle situations when children are upset and throwing a temper tantrum will often determine how they will handle conflict as they grow up. Parents must teach children the difference between what is and is not considered appropriate behavior. Parents must not allow a child to control the household. Parents need to understand that the child’s need for security via boundaries and for the parent to act like a parent. The more a parent allows a child to get by with stuff, the more the child will act out and cause problems. When a parent would describe how they were their child’s friend the red flags started flying. Friends are peers. Children need parents to act like parents.

Children who grow up in a loving, caring environment where they feel supported feel more secure and confident than other children. The ability to learn conflict resolutions skills effectively is most often determined by how a child’s parents respond to their early expressions of aggression. Redirecting their attention to something more positive instead of punishing the child is a more effective method of discipline. Time outs work well for young children. A good rule is one minute for each of age (for example, 5 minutes for a 5 year old). 

It is important for children to learn to use words, rather than actions, to articulate their feelings. Adults need to know how thoughts and feelings equal behavior. Adults need to model positive ways to resolve conflicts peacefully. Help children understand how conflicts and arguments are normal between people who think and believe differently. Teach them that it is OK to have different opinions and like different things but you can still get along. For example, when you go to a restaurant, each person can order a different item but still eat together. Friends can cheer for different teams but still have fun playing together. Allow children to hear you resolving conflicts in peaceful manners and they will learn to do the same.