Conflict is a natural part of human interaction; every person is different and has differing opinions, perceptions, goals and values. And this is especially true for a family, who, though connected by blood and DNA, are still individuals with their own ideas, points of view and thoughts.
Unfortunately, families fear conflict and see it as something to avoid. Many simply choose to ignore conflict. The danger in this approach is that the conflict festers under the surface and then bubbles up in subtle ways. Engaging in conflict does not have to be negative or counterproductive. In fact, it can be positive. Conflict can be helpful in making necessary changes within a family and to teach children to use strong interpersonal skills to identify conflict and resolve it in a positive fashion. Learning these skills of identification of the problem, dialogue, cooperation and negotiation can be very useful for children in later life.
Games and activities are great way to create a safe environment to help children understand their usual reactions and then go on to discover more effective strategies for conflict resolution with their siblings, parents, friends and others. Here are some ideas:
Using a softball or a stuffed animal, the parent should start the activity by saying, “I feel angry when…” then completing the sentence. The ball is then tossed to the first child who repeats what was said and adds their own sentence. The toss game continues with each child repeating the sentence of the child before them and completing the sentence for themselves.
In this way, the children discover what makes their peers/ siblings/ parents angry, and some might even find that the same things make them angry. The idea is that by knowing what creates conflicts, children will attempt to avoid those activities or things that bother each other.
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