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7 Principles for Conflict Resolution

 If I had a dime for every time I said “you have to get along” to my children, I’d be rich enough to buy every house on my block. Instead, my money is invested in food, clothing, education and all other household expenses. But at least after a great deal of effort, my children are able to resolve conflicts between them without my direct intervention. It's true, I often have to step in between a ridiculous argument about a toy or what channel the t.v should be on, but raising children is not easy and sometimes parents just don’t have the strength to handle these issues.

 

Thanks to my personal experience, along with the tools I picked up along the way, I’ve succeeded in becoming a good mother who encourages conflict resolution without taking an active part in the process. Now I would like to pass my knowledge on to you, so I set out my 7 recommended principles for resolving conflicts at home between family members, but some of them can even be used in other settings!

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1. Defining rules and boundaries for arguments

Arguments are an inseparable part of relationships, regardless of whether they are between spouses, parents and children, or even siblings, so it is important for everyone to know what is expected of them during an argument. The rules and advice below are valid for almost any argument or dispute ranging from fights over toys, through problems of adolescence to the relationship between child and parent and even between parent and parent. The basic rules for debate are:

  • Do not insult - you can disagree or be angry without using words or behavior that hurt.
  • Respect each other - after all, we are a family, one that loves all its members. 
  • Stay calm - communicate with each other in a calm, slow, honest and clear manner. 
  • Listen without interrupting - listen to each other without planning your response while listening.

2. Encouraging creativity

Once both sides in the argument know what they want and are fighting for it, then any conflict can turn into one big misunderstanding with each side "stuck" in their position. However, what if both sides will ultimately agree on the same things but chose to fight the whole way to a solution? As parents, you must encourage creative or unique ways to bridge the gap and reach a solution. Encourage fairness and full transparency, but teach them to recognize that the solution might not be for the benefit of all parties. 

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3. Compromise and inclusion

Not everyone gets what they want when they want, but families can work on it so that everyone is satisfied; Not perfectly, but in a way that’s acceptable to all. Try to see the situation from the perspective of someone else in the family so you can at least try to figure out what it is that they’re feeling. When it comes to quarrels between siblings, this responsibility will be on the older one, and it is highly commendable for them if they fill it. In addition, teach your children to show empathy for others, and it will serve them faithfully in the future as well. Children who are exposed to compromise-based actions often become ambassadors of peace in their social circles, and in the future in the professions of their choosing.

 

4. Being mindful of the time and place

During an argument, it is important to remember the beautiful saying that if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. In addition, there may be moments when one side of the conflict is very angry and cannot speak logically. In such a case, a break is necessary - step aside and agree to disagree, or to talk about it later. We all know someone or remember a situation in which one of the sides in the argument continued to escalate the situation and everything got out of control. To prevent this, we as parents should convey the message that it is okay to postpone arguments, the sun will rise tomorrow morning and all involved will continue to be members of the same family. Perhaps the debate will be no more important or than tomorrow, but it is better than exacerbating the current situation.

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5. Expressing oneself clearly

In resolving conflicts, it is important that we not only listen to the person in front of us and try to understand their position, but also that we know how to express clearly what we feel. In my personal experience, full transparency in what I feel, what my desires are, what is important to me and more, makes it easier for the other side to understand my place as well. Therefore, you must learn to clearly share what you’re experiencing within you because people can’t give you what you want if you do not tell them clearly what it is. Small children usually have difficulty with this process, but if you help them do so, the situation will improve to the point where your help will no longer be needed.

6. Seek a solution to a problem that both sides will benefit from

In order to be able to meet this principle, I recommend that at the stage of finding solutions, you be careful about two rules; An attempt to find a solution that both sides are satisfied with, and to propose as many solutions and alternatives as possible, so that there isn’t just one solution on the table. The purpose of this tool is for each side to understand and agree on the solution and leave with the feeling that there is a way forward. So, keep in mind the following three points:

  • Both sides need to understand beyond a shadow of a doubt what the agreed solution is.
  • Both sides must commit themselves to fulfill their promises in favor of the solution.
  • Both sides need to think of ways to prevent this conflict, or others like it, from recurring in the future.

7. Open and sincere communication is always the solution

Open and honest communication is no longer a hollow cliché, it is the way to solve conflicts, at both high and low levels. It is enough to look at the news and see how conflict resolution between countries is very similar to children learning to play together. Like countries, small children say everything they think, want and feel without filters, and often they do not understand the other side. On the other hand, most of us understand that we will not always get what we want, and we must also know how to lose and give in from time to time. The question is only, what do we do with this knowledge? Will we cry and complain every time we have to face a loss or compromise?

The likelihood of this is not high. Therefore, even within the family unit, it is important to remember and remind ourselves that only through creative thinking, interpersonal communication, and an honest and positive approach can we reach a solution to conflicts. If we choose to conceal information and not share our feelings, thoughts, and desires in a transparent and honest way, we will never reach an agreement on both the personal and family level.

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