De-Escalating & Helping Kids Solve Their Conflicts
Communication, Compromise, and Time-Outs.
“Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.” — Carl Jung
It’s no secret that kids love to fight. And as parents, it can be hard to know when and how to step in.
But what if we didn’t always interfere in their schoolyard squabbles? What if, instead, we helped them learn to solve them on their own?
Believe it or not, this is a strategy that can work.
Letting kids hash out their differences themselves teaches them important lessons about communication, compromise, and conflict resolution.
Not to mention, they also get some valuable practice in problem-solving.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should sit back and let your kids duke it out. There are certain situations where intervention is necessary (like if someone is getting hurt).
But in general, it’s best to let them figure things out for themselves.
Why Kids Need to Learn to Solve Their Problems
There are a few reasons kids need to learn how to solve their problems.
For one, it teaches them how to communicate effectively.
When kids solve their problems, they have to talk things out and explain their point of view. This is a valuable skill that they can use in all areas of their life, from school to work to personal relationships.
It also helps them to understand different perspectives. To come to a resolution, kids have to see things from the other person’s point of view. This is an important lesson that will serve them well in their personal and professional lives.
It also allows them to practice compromise. In any conflict, there has to be some give and take. Kids will be better equipped to handle difficult situations by learning to compromise.
Tips for De-Escalating Conflict
Of course, it’s not always easy to let your kids solve their problems.
After all, it can be tough to watch them struggle and sometimes fail. But there are a few things you can do to make the process easier.
Here are a few tips for de-escalating conflict:
Encourage communication: When kids are fighting, encourage them to communicate with each other. This means no name-calling or yelling — they need to explain their point of view.
Model respectful behavior: Kids learn by example, so it’s important to model respectful behavior. This means no name-calling or put-downs, even if you’re joking around.
Encourage compromise: As I mentioned before, conflict resolution requires compromise. So, when kids are fighting, please encourage them to find a middle ground that works for them.
Give them space: Sometimes, the best thing you can do is give kids some space to cool down. Once they’ve had a chance to calm down, they’ll be better equipped to solve the problem.
Problems are a Part of Life
Conflict is a natural part of life. Everyone experiences it, and there’s no way to avoid it altogether. The goal is to help kids learn how to handle it healthily and productively.
By teaching them to communicate, understand different perspectives, and compromise, you’ll give them the tools they need to succeed in all areas of their lives.
Ways Adults Can Help Kids with Conflict Resolution
Besides the tips above, adults can do a few things to help kids with conflict resolution.
One thing you can do is provide them with resources. This might include books, articles, or even websites that can help them learn more about the subject.
You can also role-play different scenarios with them. This will allow them to practice what they’ve learned and try other techniques.
Finally, you can offer guidance and support. Sometimes, all kids need is a little help getting started. You can give them the boost they need to succeed by providing advice and support.
The Importance of Time-Outs
While it’s important to let kids handle their problems, there are certain situations where intervention is necessary.
One of these situations is when someone is getting hurt.
If you see that a child is about to hurt another child, it’s important to intervene. The best way to do this is to use a time-out. Time-outs provide a chance for everyone to calm down and avoid further escalation.
It’s also important to remember that time-outs are not a punishment. They’re a way to provide some space and allow everyone to cool down.
How to Use Time-Outs
There are a few different ways to use time-outs.
First, it’s essential to be consistent with them. This means using them every time the situation warrants it.
Second, be clear about what the time-out entails. For example, you might want to rule that the child must stay in their room for five minutes or until they’re calm.
Third, follow through with the time-out. This means not giving in to demands or pleas for attention. Once the time-out is over, you can resume normal activities.
Finally, it’s important to debrief after the time-out is over. This means talking about what happened and why the time-out was necessary. It’s also an excellent opportunity to discuss how the situation could have been handled.
How to Be an Active Participant in Conflict Resolution
Conflict resolution is a process that requires active participation from everyone involved.
Here are a few ideas:
Offer guidance: When kids struggle to resolve a conflict, offer advice. This might mean asking questions or offering suggestions. But be careful not to take over — let them figure it out for themselves as much as possible.
Be a sounding board: Sometimes, all kids need is someone to talk to. If they’re having trouble resolving a conflict, be a sounding board. Listen to their concerns and help them work through their feelings.
Encourage positive thinking: It’s easy for kids to get caught up in negative thoughts during a conflict. But you can help by encouraging positive thinking. Help them focus on the good things that can come from resolving the conflict.
Conflict is a natural part of life, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a negative experience. Teaching kids how to resolve conflict will give them valuable skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.
So the next time your kids start bickering, resist the urge to step in. By giving them a chance to work things out, you’re helping them develop essential life skills that will serve them well into adulthood.
This article was first published in A Parent is Born.