Do you find playing the arbitrator for your children’s sibling squabbles and pillow-fights tiresome? Here are some tips to help you teach your children to resolve their conflicts amicably.
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj
Aren’t we all familiar with this fable of Aesop’s where the two goats refused to give way to each other, locked their horns and got into a fight, plunged into the river and drowned? Isn’t it a typical example of conflict? Don’t we often find ourselves in situations involving conflicts in our day-to-day lives? Well, how do we handle them? Are we able to resolve our conflicts respectfully or do we struggle to reach a consensus? What about our children? How do we prepare them to handle conflicts? In a world full of strife and rifts, conflicts are bound to be there. What is important is how we train our children to resolve conflicts amicably. Before delving into how we can help them manage conflicts, let us try to understand what conflict means.
Definition and types
The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines conflict thus –
This definition, in turn, spells out two major types of conflicts:
Now that we have defined and broadly classified conflict, let us see why it is important for children to learn to manage their conflicts.
Children face conflicts almost everywhere - at home, in school, in the playground, at the library, etc. Whether it is claiming possession over a toy, wanting to lead a play-group, wanting to have their choices accepted at home, deciding a course of study or pursuing a career, children stare at the grim face of conflict day in and day out. As they grow up into adults, they will continue to face conflicts both in their personal as well as professional lives. Beginning from tolerating a not-so-friendly neighbour to being part of a team in the workplace, conflicts will be an integral part of their lives. If they are not taught to resolve their conflicts early in life, it can affect their psycho-social development. It can sour relationships and cause self-doubt. It can even affect their focus and concentration.
Therefore, it is essential that children learn to manage their conflicts efficiently. Here’s what parents can do to help them in this process.
‘Conflict is the beginning of consciousness,’ said the American psychoanalyst, Mary Esther Harding. Let our children bear this in mind. Conflicts can serve as opportunities to know ourselves and others better. They can serve as learning experiences in improving our relationships with others and our perceptions of people and matters.
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Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj