Below I share the one thing kids need to remember in the midst of conflict.
The reality is–conflict is inevitable, no matter if you’re two years old 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 from elementary- high school and I’ve trained adults and professionals on how to handle conflict. In most of the situations, one thing always stands out in conflict situations.
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 the physical or verbal punishment.
I see it all the time with children.
I’ll use my kids as an example, but remember this happens with adults as well. For example, 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 hear the tension. The yelling, screaming and crying. My older son screams, “Mom, moooooooom, he’s kicking and won’t stop.”
I walk in to the room and my older son is still standing a few feet away from my younger son all the while he kicks him. I ask my younger son to stop. Then I look at my older son and remind him, “You do realize that you can move away? Why are you still standing there letting him hit you? You have a choice in this situation and that’s to stand there or to move.”
Seriously, I don’t know how many times I’ve said this to my boys and they look at me in shock and awe. As if I said the most enlightening thing ever.
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 is it that we don’t want them to think they’ve won and risk looking like a coward, so we just going to stand here and let them verbally abuse us?
I have to remind my boys to set boundaries with friends or strangers and not to let them talk to them in rude or mean ways.
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. You can always walk away, unless of course someone has you in head lock position which is not rare to find in my house with boys who like to wrestle.
Walk away, is very simple! It will help them feel empowered. But for some reason both kids and adults tend to forget.
This is one of the many solutions I have shared with my children (there are lots of ways to solve different types of conflict. The “walk away” rule is applicable 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–When you called me a baby that hurt my feelings.
- Warning–If you continue saying that I’m going to leave the room.
- Leave– If they continue doing the same thing then walk out of the room or area.
The above doesn’t necessarily work for bullying situations the example below would work best.
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.
Why do you think it’s hard for us to walk away?