When it comes to raising children, parent and child conflicts are an inevitable part of life. Here are some constructive ways to better manage conflict with your child:
1. Set Clear and Realistic Expecations. Many conflicts arise when boundaries are unclear or when they are too rigid. Be clear on what behaviors are acceptable and what are not. In addition, be clear and consistent with the rules you have established; however, be willing to take your child’s opinions and ideas into consideration and to adjust your expectations where it makes sense to do so.
2. Listen to Your Child’s Perspective. Give your child the chance to be heard and listen to what your child has to say. You might discover the underlying issue has nothing to do with the conflict at hand and you may receive insights into how you might work together to resolve the situation more effectively.
3. Choose Your Battles Wisely. Children often test limits and the resulting power struggle can lead to conflict. While some battles are worth fighting, others are not worth the time and the headache. Be willing to step back from situations that will not lead to a constructive outcome; however, be careful not to shy away from the battle simply to avoid conflict.
4. Be a Good Role Model. Your child is constantly observing your actions and reactions and will likely imitate that observed behavior. Take advantage of these teachable moments by modeling peaceful and constructive ways to manage conflict. Staying relaxed and calm may help a child who is out of control to calm down as well. In addition, focus on the behavior, not the child. For example, instead of saying, “you are bad,” say “you are behaving poorly.”
5. Give Yourself a Time Out. When the situation is tense and you feel that you are on the verge of spinning out of control, sometimes the best course of action is to simply give yourself some time to cool down and regroup. Before you walk away, explain to your child that you need some time to calm down and that you will discuss the issue later. And then make the time and effort to do so.
Being intentional about teaching your children how to manage conflict in a positive manner will not only help you deal with the conflict at hand, it will instill in them important life lessons as well.