Like everyone else in life, children too face daily situations of conflict. Though the reasons behind those conflicts and the intensity of them vary, the “how to” of managing them still revolves around being calm, and choosing your actions at a moment of stress.
For children this is even more difficult than adults, their brain is still developing and the intensity of their emotions is high. Introducing tools and ways to manage conflict, however, can support them immensely in learning how to effectively deal with such situations.
In most cases we resort to instructions such as don’t hit, don’t yell, or use your hands gently. But very rarely do we remember to let them know what can to do instead. In this post I’ve put together 5 simple ways for you to share with your children as options on how to deal with situations of conflict;
1. Count or Breath; It was an eye opener when I first taught my younger twins this technique. At first I thought it wouldn’t really work with a five year old but in time; they actually learned to take a deep breath or count to as much as they needs to cool down. What to do? Model what a deep breath is, and show them that it feels calmer. Let them practice at different times of the day and if they get triggered around you remind them “Ok, let’s take a deep deep breathe” and take one in front of them.
2. Walk away & Cool Down; Yup this works too. Though it is hard for them young. Again modeling the behavior to them will teach them how to do it. What to do? Say “maybe it’s a good time to take a moment to cool down and come back” this may apply to “you” or “your” child
3. Language; Since they are learning what language to use in these early years it is a helpful idea to support them by providing language that enables them to express how they are feeling & make requests. What to do? Practice the language with them and teach them how to use it in this way;
o When I see/hear you (do)…
o I feel (emotions not thoughts)…
o Would you be willing to…(request or action to do)
4. Tell an adult; ofcourse they can tell an adult, the probability that an adult will manage the conflict better is very high- so let your child know that they always have a choice to call in an adult to support in managing the situation, if they feel stuck or helpless
5. Journal; this really has worked for my daughter and it usually works for most older kids. My daughter started at 6 to write when she felt stressed and since then it has been a great tool for her to manage her feelings about something. Journaling doesn’t have to be in writing, it can be in voice or drawing or even in pictures. Whatever works for your child. What to do? Practice with your child what works for them, invite them to write about a situation or draw a picture about it and explain to you why did they do so.
These are some of the things that worked for me, do you have others that wok for you and your family? I would love for you to share your experience with supporting your child deal with conflict.
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Marwa Advocates for freedom, peace, and building compassionate homes.