Q: How do I encourage conflict resolution?
A: As a mom of athletes, I often heard the term "practice how you play." In terms of conflict resolution, this means rehearse strategies to resolve a conflict before there is actually a conflict.
This preparation can reduce anxiety and the negative reactions that can lead to escalation when an actual conflict arises. Play-acting with two dolls who aren’t willing to share or discussing ways to handle mean words can help a young person understand how to manage behaviors and emotions effectively. This will also build their confidence in navigating social environments.
Once there has been ample practice, be sure to stand back and avoid immediate involvement when a conflict arises. Children are fast learners. Allowing them to respond in an appropriate manner helps them demonstrate what they’ve learned. Try not to provoke conflicts.
Ensuring a play environment has enough space to play, toys to share and a variety of activities for choice goes a long way in resolving conflicts before they even begin. If there have been ongoing conflicts of a variety, take the time to discuss when the conflict has been resolved. This will help them review, reflect, and rehearse how to resolve appropriately in the future.
Among friends, conflicts are sure to occur, established expectations and two little words practiced consistently can make a real difference. Be Kind.