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Activities for Conflict Resolution Skills Development in the Home

By Kelly E. Nault, M.A.

Conflict is part of life. If you are human—if you are breathing—you will experience conflict even with those you love most. This is normal. Conflict can actually be healthy when our family members have the skills to move through conflict. When we don’t have conflict resolution skills—that’s when we experience problems.

If you find yourself revisiting the same heated issues—“Why can’t you pick up after yourself?”, “Why can’t you help out more with the kids?”, or “Why can’t you two just get along for once?”—you may be living in a cantankerous home environment that has your whole family in the “deep end” of life. Don’t despair: there is a solution.

Easy-to-Use Activities for Conflict Resolution Skills Development
My book, When You’re About To Go Off The Deep End, Don’t Take Your Kids With You contains dozens of easy-to-use tips for developing conflict resolution skills in your children. Here are three of the most useful conflict resolution tools:

  1. Establish Family Rules For Conflict – Sit down as a family and create a special conflict resolution rules document that each of you can refer to during fights and arguments. Include things like: we are specific when we talk about our problems, we forgive one another, we are honest, we listen to others point of view, we look for solutions so we can all feel good, we don’t yell or put another person down, etc. Create this document when things are going well in your household and commit to referring to it whenever a fight heats up and to remind others to do the same. The more everyone is involved with creating the family rules for conflict, the more members of the family will use it. 
  2. Use a “Mom’s Timeout” – Timeouts are often used as punishment when a child misbehaves (for example, putting them in a corner or on a stair for a certain amount of time). This technique meets with varied success. In my book, I spend four pages discussing a “Mom’s Timeout.” How this activity works is that mom (or dad) takes the timeout instead of the child—disengaging from the conflict in order to return with a clear head. A calm demeanor is one of the key requirements to resolving conflict quickly. This strategy works all the time when used correctly. Why? Because, although a mom can’t ultimately control what her child does, she can control herself. 
  3. Perform “Daring Do Overs” – We all make mistakes and say things that we wish we could take back. Instead of feeling guilty, use a “Daring Do Over.” This activity is like the rewind button for your mistake. It’s your “take two” opportunity in which you can do it all over again—only this time, better. This strategy not only decreases conflict, but also helps all members of the family to practice behaving well so there is a much better chance that we all do it better next time.

Many of us cringe at the thought of conflict; however, it is an unavoidable part of life. Although we can’t completely conflict proof ourselves, we can learn key conflict resolution skills that work well for us so we can move through conflict easily. If we also take the time to equip our children with the skills to solve conflicts that arise we set them up with life skills that serve them for the rest of their lives. With new skills your family members will not just survive conflict: they will actually thrive as a result. Great harmony like a melody from a string quartet is created by the tension of the strings. Learn to resolve conflict and you can experience household harmony.

About the Author
Kelly Nault, MA author of When You’re About To Go Off The Deep End, Don’t Take Your Kids With You inspires moms to put themselves first—for the sake of their children. She shares time-tested tools that motivate children to want to be well behaved, responsible and happy! Sign up for her
free online nine week parenting course here.

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