My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19, 20
Three principles for resolving conflict
The twin girls fight frequently. They have a close, but tense sibling relationship. Katie tends to be the dominant one, and often takes advantage of her sister Kallie. The nature of their fighting was taking a toll on their closeness, and their words and actions increased at a hurtful momentum.
Their frequent conflicts were getting more and more negative attention from their parents and another sibling. As I (Lynne) coached the mom and daughters, we came up with a fairly simple plan. It’s so practical! I now share it as a tool for other parents. Keep reading to equip your own kids with a vision and some concrete conflict resolution ideas, whether with siblings, or with friends.
I printed three conflict resolution principles, each on a separate piece of cardstock:
UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER.
FIND A WIN-WIN!
Then, with mom and kids together in the room, I briefly explained each principle and gave the kids some markers, inviting them to draw pictures of how they would act on each principle to solve future conflicts. If they’d been older kids, I’d have asked just for simple written statements to answer, “What could you do to accomplish each principle?”
Magic markers to the rescue!
By drawing pictures that fit the principles, the girls made concrete plans. For “COOL DOWN” Kallie drew a picture of herself reading and Katie of herself playing with toys. For “UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER” The girls worked together to draw a picture of one person talking and one with really big ears listening. And for “FIND A WIN-WIN” they together drew a picture of them playing nicely together. These drawings of their future success established a simple vision for getting along well.
With these pictures in hand, we then discussed how Katie and Kallie’s mom could facilitate (not control) the girls to complete the above steps, and truly learn to reconcile conflict. She came back the next week and said, “It’s actually better! Not perfect, but we’re making progress.”
Key Questions and Biblical Context
Consider doing this with your own kids. Below are the principles, some basic questions to guide kids through, and some teaching from the Bible if you want to put the principles in Biblical context:
What’s my best way to get calm?
How have I settled down before?
UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER.
What did I feel? What did I want?
What did my sibling (or friend) feel and want?
FIND A WIN-WIN.
How have we solved this kind of thing before?
How can we best solve this right now?
How could we each feel honored and respected by the solution?
Phil. 2:2-3, The Message…”Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.”
Now try it!
Working on these skills helps a child to form an identity as a learner and a reconciler instead of as a troublemaker or aggressor. It helps parents and children alike become more accountable to constructive conflict resolution as they grow in confidence and experience. Try these principles, perhaps using these helpers:
- Here’s a printout with the key questions and scriptures,
- Here’s a printout with just the three titles and big, empty boxes for you and your kids to write on.
- On the right, there’s a bookmark you can print out as a reminder, or pin on Pinterest.
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