part of "getting along as a family " written by Robert Myers, Phd Psychologist.
Relationships are made up of two individuals with different temperaments and personalities. As a result, disagreements are going to occur. It’s not a matter of if a problem will arise but how to solve it together.
Take a Break
There is great wisdom in the stop and “count to 10″ advice. This time allows for a time to avoid reaction that can inflame the situation. Taking a break can be, I think I need to take a walk to settle down or let me just have some time to myself and let’s come back and work on this. This does NOT mean storming out or avoiding the problem all together. It’s a cooling down period to hopefully usher in reason and logic as opposed to reaction and anger.
See the Other Side
Once the strong feelings have settled then take a moment ,if you need to, in order to stop and look at the situation through the eyes and heart of the person you are arguing with. If you do this consistently, in time you will grow to understand the person instead of being inclined to attack them. This takes practice which requires a decision, a choice and eventually is will become a positive habit.
Find Common Ground
Think about the things you agree on and can find commonality in. If you can outweigh the negative thoughts with positive ones, you will find it much easier to resolve your conflict. You can start to remind each other that you are partners rather than enemies.
It’s natural to want to explain your side, be defensive and shut off listening to your partner. This only alienates and causes hard feelings. Sit and absorb what the other person is saying. Ask questions about their point of view. Repeat back to them what they are saying in order to clarify if you are understanding them correctly. This will take the conflict from hostile back to a place where you actually care what the other person is thinking and feeling. This goes both ways.
Compromise When Possible
If at all possible, compromise and negotiate. There are times when too much is at stake to give up your position and find middle ground, but most of the time it is quite manageable to find a solution that can eventually work for everyone. Work together to find a way for everyone to feel that the outcome is reasonable.
Let It Go
If you have gotten caught up in a mess that seems impossible to resolve, decide to end it immediately. If you are in a conflict with someone who is important to you, remind yourself that the relationship is worth more than being right. Forgive each other and move on. It is rarely worth winning an argument if you lose an important relationship in the process.
It is important to understand that not all couple’s issues can be resolved easily. A qualified counselor can help to provide tools and strategies that bring you both back onto safe and common ground. You are a work in progress and the time spent on nurturing your healthy relationships will be worth it in the end.
Teaching Conflict Resolution to Your Children
Children will be children. And if you have more than one in a room, there’s a good bet there will be an argument or conflict at some point. Teaching conflict resolution to your children will reduce your frustrations and help bring peace to your home.
One way to address conflict resolution is by using books. Authors of children’s books are able to write to a child’s level of understanding. They create characters that children can identify with. The story can be used to describe a conflict between characters as well as demonstrate to children the best way to resolve that conflict. Once they see a different way to resolve problems, they’ll be more likely to use those skills the next time they have a conflict.
While you’re reading the story to your children, stop occasionally to discuss what’s going on. Ask them questions like:
• Have you ever felt that way?
• What have you done in a similar situation in the past?
• How do you think _______ feels about what happened to them?
• What do you think _______ is going to do?
• What would you do?
Continue reading the story and talking about what’s going on in it. Help them understand there are two sides to every argument or conflict. Ask them about their feelings and how their feelings might affect what they say or do. You could also ask them how they might resolve what’s going on in the story before you read that part. Finally, ask them what the character learned from the situation in the book and how that knowledge could help them solve their own conflicts.
Talk about appropriate ways to handle conflicts. Remind them to never use violence because violence never solves a problem; it only creates others. Help them see that talking about a problem and working toward a resolution together is the best way to resolve a conflict.
Do your best to be a good role model for your children. If you live with other people, you’re going to have a conflict sooner or later. Remember that your children are watching you. They want to see how you handle conflicts, even with them – especially once you start teaching them about it. If you get angry, yell and shout, they are less likely to believe that’s not the right way to resolve conflict. Try to remain calm and talk about things rather than letting your emotions get the best of you.
Here are some steps you may want to model for them:
• When you begin feeling angry or frustrated, stop before you say something you’ll regret.
• Take a deep breath and count to ten.
• Calmly explain how you feel about what happened or was said.
• Listen to what the other person has to say about the subject.
• Think about different solutions to the problem.
• If you can’t reach an agreement which both of you can accept, ask someone not involved to help you resolve the conflict. Agree to abide by what the third party suggests.
Once you begin teaching conflict resolution to your children, you may notice less stress and fussing in your home. Continue to work with them when they have disagreements, model conflict resolution before them, and your children will be better equipped to handle any conflicts they have in the future. And isn’t that what parenting is all about – equipping our children for life outside of your home?