Teaching Your Child How to Manage Conflict

1Our educators at the Yew Chung International School of Beijing strive to instill in children core skills and habits of mind, providing students of all ages the skills they need to survive and thrive in young adulthood and beyond. One such skill they need to possess is how to handle conflict, something they will encounter throughout their lives.

Recently, Student Support Services teacher and Head of Pastoral Care Karen Killeen led a workshop for parents of Lower Primary Students on Supporting Your Child in Managing Conflict. The workshop aimed to provide parents with strategies to properly teach their children how to manage conflict and anger in a healthy fashion.

Ms. Killeen shared with us details from the workshop as well as a number of tips for our readers to help them when their own children experience an inevitable meltdown.

Please introduce the workshop that you conducted for parents on supporting your child in managing conflict.2

We focus on teaching families and parents how to properly model acceptable behavior during conflict. We looked at three different relationships: adult to adult, adult to child, and child to child.

The workshop was geared towards parents of children in Lower Primary School as that is a key developmental stage for students when they are becoming more self-aware and being to form their own ideas and opinions. At school, we emphasize that students use their words during a conflict and walking away and telling a teacher or adult if you can’t solve a conflict. This is what we hope parents model at home as well.

What did the workshop seek to accomplish?

We wanted to impart on parents that school and home life are connected, not isolated spheres. We wanted to work with parents so that there’s consistency and continuity between home and school.

What are some of the most common areas of conflict that you address in your role with Student Support Services?

I mainly work during periods of time where there’s downtime for students, such as during recess, lunchtime, a   transitions between lessons. For instance, when there were frequent conflicts between students in Year 3, I was outside during every break time and lunchtime helping to manage and negotiate. That conflict I worked out through modeling how to behave, behavior which was then brought back into the classroom and home. We want to share with our community that we do care about resolving these inevitable conflicts and that we are equipped to do so.

What are some effective methods presented during the workshop that you can share with our readers to help address these areas of conflict?3

First off, keep calm! If your kids have a temper tantrum in the super market, for instance, they expect that after time you’re going to give in. What parents have to do is meet their tantrum with a calm voice; if you start shouting, then they’ll start shouting, and the situation will only escalate. This goes beyond your direct interactions with your child, as modeling correct behavior is important as well. If you’re shouting at your spouse in front of them, they’ll internalize that and copy that behavior. Model the behavior you expect your kids to exhibit.

Secondly, delivering the same message consistently is important. State exactly why your child can’t do something. Explain why you’ve made your choice, and then stick to your guns!

Third, allow your child to recognize that anger and being upset are natural emotions, but that they need to learn to self-regulate, to calm down so that they can then talk properly. They must learn that it’s impossible to get rid of anger as it’s a part of human nature, but being able to manage it and regulate yourself is essential. Designate a space at home where your child can go to cool off if need be so that they can then approach the conflict with a level head.

Fourth, find time to talk to your kids! Get off your phone, sit around the table, and talk. Ask your child how their day was. Try to tackle issues before they get to the point where they get upset and lash out.

Finally, make sure children are equipped to handle conflict appropriately. Make sure they’re getting enough sleep, eating properly, getting plenty of exercise, and not overloaded with homework.

Learn more about the Yew Chung International School of Beijing and its stellar Student Support Services programme by visiting their homepage.

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