The blissful utopia experienced by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is long gone. Humans have never known a perpetually peaceful existence. Conflict, while not necessarily a bad thing, is here to stay. It’s up to us to choose healthy ways to manage disagreements. Approached intelligently, the divergence of opinions allows us to learn about one another with an open-mindedness that can help our relationships flourish.
Conflict is Inevitable
If we were all the same, life would be pretty boring. Don’t allow differing opinions, interests, and thought processes to antagonize our sensitive ego—human pride and the perception of divisiveness can threaten relationships. Whether sourced in unfamiliarity or disagreement, conflict can lead to contention and even hostility. When things don’t go our way, emotions can take over; a wrong move or two can cause things to spiral out of control. The question is… what do we do about it?
We can take a pause, reevaluate our energy, and focus on our breathing to usher in a sense of calm. Especially with more challenging conflicts, we are best served to approach resolution by having integrity and showing respect. What is the reason for the disagreement? What does the other person want? What do they not want? Are there positive options for fair or even mutually beneficial outcomes?
Insults, threats, and acts of violence are unacceptable. For disagreements where resolution is important but remains elusive, consider asking a wise outsider to weigh in. A neutral observer who is not vested in the outcome—someone who can see things through a more objective lens—might help bring disagreeable parties closer together. Be positive, patient, and sincere; look at things from the other person’s perspective.
Help children identify trusted adults. When conflict arises, they should know who they can turn to for help.
Bullying & Cyberbullying
Kids can be so foolishly callous with each other. A “bully” might not even realize their “victim” took something the wrong way. A calm conversation is a good place to start. Children might face bullies who don’t want to resolve conflict, troublemakers intent to annoy, confuse, and upset whoever they’ve targeted. One good strategy is to just ignore them, don’t give them the satisfaction. When someone makes mean comments or inappropriately tags us in a photo, we can always walk away or put the phone down.
Taking a short break can help us distance ourselves emotionally and realize how childish someone is being. In the moment, bullying behaviors can really sting, but in the grand scheme of things, they truly don’t even matter. With social media, website admins want users to feel safe and secure while navigating their platform. If children are determined to take a stand against inappropriate cyberbullying, taking screenshots might help with reporting and/or blocking someone’s antics.
If a child is targeted by repeated bullying, a more creative and resourceful approach might be needed. Incessant bullying usually takes place in a school setting. By contacting the child’s teacher, principal, or school psychologist with a non-accusatory team-first approach, we are highly likely to win allies. Whether they know it or not, bullies need help too; an overall compassionate mentality is better for everyone.
Why Conflict Can Be a Good Thing
Through conflict resolution, children learn to negotiate, cooperate, and compromise. Differences of opinion encourage children to be more assertive and expressive as they build self-confidence. With experience, children learn to choose their battles wisely, gracefully accept criticism, and become more receptive to new ideas. Confrontation presents the opportunity for opposing sides to consider each other’s feelings and perspectives, it promotes active listening skills, and it can even inspire collaboration. As children maturely work towards resolution, they might reevaluate their position and learn something new. Whether or not an agreement is reached, children can learn how to find common ground and strengthen relationships by treating each other with respect, even in the face of disagreement.
Conflict may cause frustration in the moment, but it creates opportunity. Rather than avoiding disagreement, try embracing it. The learning that comes from seeing things from another person’s point of view can be just as rewarding as coming up with a mutually acceptable resolution.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
—Proverbs 27:17 NIV
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PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Mothers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist or psychotherapist.