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MomTalk.com October 15, 2018:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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Resolving Conflicts: Lessons for Life

When kids argue, the sights and sounds of conflict can be alarming and can make your stress level soar. While quieting things down is your first concern, engaging the quarrelers rather than simply laying down the law can provide lasting benefits.



Standing Back
As kids clash, you have to do something, right? Not necessarily-jumping into every dispute will not only wear you out, but also it doesn't give children a chance to work things out for themselves.

When kids argue, the sights and sounds of conflict can be alarming and can make your stress level soar. While quieting things down is your first concern, engaging the quarrelers rather than simply laying down the law can provide lasting benefits.

Standing Back
As kids clash, you have to do something, right? Not necessarily-jumping into every dispute will not only wear you out, but also it doesn't give children a chance to work things out for themselves. Besides, knowing that you will get involved, kids may become adept in shifting blame to their opponent.

Stepping In
Some situations require you to intervene:
* Someone may be hurt.
* A child loses self-control.
* One child has more power than another.
* An argument is repeated or goes on too long.

Calm everyone's emotions-keeping your own cool is vital-and separate children if they are hitting, pushing, or threatening.

Finding Answers
Involve the kids. Rather than just deciding who is right and who is wrong and handing out rewards and punishments, discuss the problem. Give each child a chance to tell his side of the story without being interrupted. When you listen to kids, they realize that you take them, their feelings, and their point of view seriously.

You can't always get
what you want
But if you try sometimes,
Well you just might find
You get what you need.

-Rolling Stones

Identify the problem. By helping children to describe the dispute, you can move the situation from demands, name calling, and perhaps physical fighting to talking about what's bugging them.

Ask for solutions. Make it clear that a solution must be found and that you want the kids to find it. Let them know that their differences must be solved fairly. Set rules for settling the issue. No yelling or insults allowed.

Don't get caught in the middle. As accusations fly and old complaints reappear, the web of “he said, she said” can become tangled quickly. You may find yourself confused while the kids become angrier. Be prepared to guide the solution-suggest choices such as taking turns, picking what is most important, and trading privileges.

Stay on track. Insist on good manners such as keeping voices down and letting each other speak. Stay in charge of the conversation by asking questions and having the kids talk to you instead of each other. Keep everyone focused on the immediate issue-not old grudges and general likes and dislikes.

Considering Age
Whether conflicts involve toddlers or teenagers, the basic issues can be surprisingly similar. Often, they have to do with using something-having it first, taking it, or not giving it up-and intruding on space or possessions. While young children may fight over toys and touching, teens may squabble over entertainment choices, access to cars or computers and personal space.

Your role in resolving a quarrel depends a lot on the age of those involved. With young children who cannot express their feelings or define a dispute, you will have to put the situation into words for them. For example, "You're upset because...," "He was using that toy first," or "Did you know that hurts your brother?" Likewise, be prepared to arrive at solutions such as "Wait your turn" or "We're putting this away now." Even though you are taking control of the situation, your use of words takes the focus away from fighting and shows that force is not acceptable. With older kids and adolescents, you can ask more questions and reason with the opponents to solve a problem.

Tips for Resolving Conflicts


  • Encourage kids to work out their own disagreements.
  • Make sure no one gets hurt or overly upset.
  • Help the opponents find solutions.
  • Emphasize words, reason, and respect.
  • Maintain control by setting rules, guiding discussion, and holding final authority over outcomes.
  • Tailor your approach to kids' ages

Looking Ahead

Even though squelching squabbles can cause distress, it also provides an opportunity to teach valuable lessons in communication and compromise.

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration



Categories: Family,


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