Being a teenager certainly isn’t an easy time. With all the physical and emotional changes taking place, it’s no wonder friendships can get tricky. No matter how much you want to protect your child from conflict, it’s inevitable there are going to be disputes with peers at some point. Equipping your teen with the right set of life skills to help manage conflict effectively will help them have more fulfilling friendships, be a good friend and enjoy better social experiences, both inside and outside of school. Here’s some ways you can start teaching these beneficial conflict resolution skills today.
Help Teens Learn To Manage Strong Emotions
Even though teenagers have the right to feel strong emotions such as anger and frustration, it’s important they learn that shouting, being intimidating or physically hurting someone doesn’t help resolve conflict and is hurtful behaviour. Instead discuss some simple strategies for your teen to stay calm when these types of feelings arise. This can be as simple as taking a deep breath, counting to ten or just stopping and taking a step back from the situation to cool off. Even though these techniques seem simplistic, they are extremely effective in diffusing strong emotions such as anger, which is an important part of effective conflict resolution.
Talk and Listen Often
Helping your teen to recognise the value of using words and speaking in a certain way to help resolve conflict between friends is invaluable. Start by working together to develop an easy phrase they can say to a friend to help try and dissolve an argument or disagreement. For example, “Let’s talk about this and find a way to work together” doesn’t assign blame and shows your willingness to find a solution together. Practice having this conversation with your teen, as it will help them learn to say how they really feel, explain in a calm manner what they want to happen. It’s also great practice to spend regular quality time with your teen talking and listening to each other. Being a good listener is essential when it comes to conflict resolution, especially as arguments between teenagers are usually emotionally charged, meaning it’s difficult for them to even listen to one another.
Practice Problem Solving Together
Practicing problem solving with your teen will have huge benefits, especially when it comes to resolving arguments and disagreements with peers. Spend time chatting through different scenarios or even situations they’ve experienced and ask them to brainstorm some potential solutions, with the aim to try and make everyone involved happy. Make sure they remember that everyone has the right to be heard and there isn’t a ‘right’ way of solving the problem - it’s crucial they can find a solution together as a team.
Talking often with your teens about the benefits of being kind, fair and sharing with others is crucial, especially as these skills will carry across into their adult life. As parents you can also encourage kindness by verbally rewarding them for positive examples of this behaviour, and setting a good example yourself. Having a fair and kind attitude will mean they have much more understanding and empathy when it comes to their friendships, and if there ever is conflict they should be able to approach the situation calmly and see both sides of the story.