Because the reality is–conflict is inevitable, no matter if you’re two or 80 years old. The wonderful thing about conflict is it’s not necessarily a bad thing and sometimes good can come out of it if handled in a healthy way.
I was a counselor in a private school for kids in elementary and high school and I’ve trained lots of adults and professionals on how to handle conflict. In most of the situations, one thing always stands out for conflict situations with both adults and kids. It was hard to pinpoint at first, but once I identified it, I was fascinated by how often this happened in the midst of heated situations. It left me wondering, why does this happen???
What I noticed is that whoever was in the position of dishing out their frustration, anger and sometimes physical retribution the person on the other end receiving it, just stood there and took it.
I see it all the time with my children but I’ve seen the same pattern with adults.
So I’ll use my kids as an example, but remember this happens with adults as well. My younger and middle child are playing just fine. Suddenly the younger one snatches a toy from the older one. My older child angrily says, “Give it back.” My younger child refuses to return it and then begins to kick him.
From the other room I can hear the tension. Then the yelling and then finally the screaming and crying. My older son screams, “Mom, moooooooom, he’s kicking and won’t stop.” I walk in to make sure no one is hurt badly and my older son is still standing a few feet away from my younger son all the while he kicks him. I look at my older son and remind him, “Buddy, you can move. Why are you still standing there letting him hit you. You have a choice here and that’s to move.”
Seriously, I don’t know how many times I’ve said this to them and they look at me in shock and awe–oh yea.
I really don’t know what it is that’s engrained in us that keeps us there. Is it politeness and we think, I shouldn’t walk away even though this person is cursing and yelling at me. Or I don’t want them to think they’ve won and risk looking like a coward, so I’m just going to stand here and let them verbally abuse me.
I have one child in particular who lets others talk to him in a disrespectful way and I have to remind him, “No one should talk to you like that, so don’t let them. Tell him it’s not okay to yell at you.” I constantly find myself coaching my kids through conflict but my hope is they will eventually adopt these methods for themselves.
Conflict Resolution: The One Thing Kids Need To Remember
So, what is the one thing our kids need to remember especially in bullying situations: they can walk away.
You can walk away.
It’s very simple and it will help them feel empowered. But you see it’s so simple that both kids and adults tend to forget. You can always walk away, unless of course someone has you in head lock position like I often find my boys in.
This is one of the many solutions I have shared with my children (there are lots of ways to solve different types of conflict this would apply in situations where the person is just wanting to annoy you or lash out at you with their words):
- Put an end to it–In your most confident voice tell them to stop.
- Express your thoughts–What you’re doing is hurting me.
- Warning–If you don’t stop I’m leaving.
- Leave- Walk away from the situation if they continue.
The above doesn’t necessarily work for bullying situations where the victim doesn’t wish to continue a friendship but just wants the bully to stop.
For bullying situations, this is one of the many solutions I’ve shared with my children:
- Put an end to it–look them in the eye and in your most confident voice say–Stop!
- Walk away.
- Tell an adult.
Our goal as parents is to give our kids tools so they can feel confident when we are not around. So whatever you do, try not to fight the fight for them even if it’s just their little brother. These little sibling fights at home are the perfect training grounds for your kids to learn how to stand up to others. Though with bullying situations you may need to intervene after your child has done all of the necessary steps and it still continues.
Have you noticed kids and adults don’t walk away?