Early childhood and especially school is a time of great learning for children (and their parents!) and often fraught with conflict.
Conflict comes in many guises: school, friendships, parental relationships, struggles with learning… and often arises when opinions or points of view don’t match expectations.
While negotiating the world can be difficult at times, families can harness these events as opportunities to grow and role model ways to deal with the challenges of life.
- increased aggression
- social isolation
- feelings of loneliness
Those who can resolve conflicts amicably have a greater chance of being accepted by their peers, whereas children who make poor choices of behavioural responses in conflict situations are likely to be rejected by their peers.
Modeling positive conflict resolution, including reflection and empathy, creative problem solving, impulse and emotion control, and good communication skills provides a valuable example for your children.
As parents we need to coach, encourage and model better ways for our children to have their needs met and develop healthy relationships.
Maintain calm and listen to your child with understanding, sympathy, and loving support. To help them feel comforted and safe, allow them to express themselves openly and honestly without fear of a negative or emotional reaction.
- Being kind – it’s hard to fight in the face of kindness
- Avoiding name calling or hurtful insults – this can just make things worse
- Talking with each other about the problem directly and honestly – so everyone’s viewpoint can be heard
- Listening carefully to others and repeat back what you think they said – this provides an opportunity to correct misunderstandings
- Using “I” statements where possible – using an “I” statement removes the implication of blame from the discussion. E.g. ‘I feel upset when you won’t let me play with you’ instead of ‘You always leave me out and never let me play’.
- Brainstorming solutions – writing solutions down in a big list as the ideas come up
- Being flexible to make room for compromise to aim for a win-win solution
- Agreeing on a solution and be willing to give it a go
- Thinking of possible consequences of solutions.
- Parentline – Communication
- Kids Helpline – Fights with Friends
- Raising Children Network – Handling sibling fights
- Raising Children Network – Active listening
- Raising Children Network – Problem solving with teenagers
- ReachOut – Tips for communicating
- Kids Matter – Helping children cool down and stay calm
- Kids Matter – Resolving conflict
- Australian Psychological Society – Parent guide to helping children manage conflict
A key priority of state schools is to foster a safe and healthy learning environment for all children. Schools are complex places, with many relationships at play; teachers, students and other parents, and there may be times when issues arise that affect your child at school.
How those issues are handled can make a significant difference to the learning environment and your child’s experience at school.
The Department of Education has provided a process to assist parents, families and school staff to manage issues respectfully and reach an outcome that is in the best interest of the student.