By Kelly E. Nault, M.A.
Conflict is part of life. It is only when we as family members don’t have the skills to move through conflict that it becomes a problem. If you find yourself revisiting the same issues—“Why can’t you pick up after yourself?”, “Why can’t you help out more with the kids?”, or “Why can’t you two just get along for once?”—you may be living in a cantankerous home environment that has your whole family in the “deep end” of life. Don't despair: there is a solution.
Easy-to-Use Activities for Conflict Resolution Skills Development
My book, When You’re About To Go Off The Deep End, Don’t Take Your Kids With You contains dozens of easy-to-use tips for developing conflict resolution skills in your children. Here are three of the most effective:
1.Establish Family Rules For Conflict – As a family, create a document that each of you can refer to during fights and arguments. Include things like: we are specific when we talk about our problems, we forgive one another, we are honest, we don’t yell or put another person down, etc. Consider including a special prayer that you write together that you commit to reading before discussing disagreements (if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will send you the one my family uses). Create this document when things are going well in your household and make a commitment to refer to it whenever a fight heats up. The more everyone is involved with creating the family rules for conflict, the more members of the family will tend to use it.
2.Use a "Mom’s Timeout" – Timeouts are often used as punishment when a child misbehaves (for example, putting them in a corner or on a stair for a certain amount of time). This technique meets with varied success. In my book, I spend four pages discussing a “Mom’s Timeout.” How this activity works is that mom (or dad) takes the timeout—disengaging from the conflict in order to return with a clear head—one of the key requirements to resolving conflict quickly. This strategy works all the time when used correctly. Why? Because, although a mom can’t control her child all the time, she can control herself.
3.Perform "Daring Do Overs" – We all make mistakes and say things that we wish we could take back. Instead of feeling guilty, use a “Daring Do Over.” This activity is like the rewind button for your mistake. It's your “take two” opportunity in which you can do it all over again—only this time, better. This strategy not only decreases conflict, but also helps all members of the family to practice behaving well so there is a much better chance that we all do it better next time.
Many of us cringe at the thought of conflict; however, it is an unavoidable part of life. Equip your children with the skills to handle conflict well by using the above activities for conflict resolution. Your family members will not just survive conflict: they will actually thrive as a result of it.
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