Help Your Kids Learn How to Resolve Conflict Peacefully

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Naomi Drew, peacemaking expert and author of the new book "The Kids' Guide to Working Out Conflicts," was drawn to her subject through first-hand experience.

"I learned about conflict resolution the hard way," she writes. "When I was a kid, I was constantly fighting with my brothers, sisters and parents, and sometimes with my friends... All that fighting made me unhappy. When I grew up and became a parent and a teacher, I promised myself that I would find ways to help my own kids and my students get along. So I began a search for strategies that worked, and even created a few of my own."

Using these techniques, Drew saw her students get along better in the classroom. But she also used the techniques at home, where her two sons were caught up in sibling rivalry: "They found out how to overcome their habit of fighting, and ended up getting along really well with each other and with people in their lives. Now that they're adults they are best friends, and their lives are filled with strong relationships."

Drew has compiled her conflict resolution techniques in "The Kids' Guide to Working Out Conflicts." The book will help young people avoid, defuse or resolve conflicts peacefully, while building their confidence and self-respect in the process. Drew explains numerous anger prevention and management techniques that kids will relate to and understand. She describes proven ways for avoiding or settling disputes that are positive and fair, allowing both people to feel okay in the end.

The book will prove particularly helpful to parents who are facing the same kinds of family conflicts Drew experienced -- not only between siblings, but between children and parents as well. The techniques she describes will also enable parents to teach their children to avoid teasing, bullying and other peer conflicts at school.

Drew interviewed more than 1000 middle school students and found that 45 percent experience conflict every day. But the good news is that over 90 percent of young people surveyed believe that learning to solve conflicts is important.

The problem, as Drew points out, isn't so much conflict, which is unavoidable, but how you deal with it. One of her main points is the importance of examining the roots of anger, so you can understand what triggers it and begin to distance yourself from it as a habit. Drew knows from personal experience how anger can affect family relations.

"As a kid, my son Tim let his bad temper take over and spent way too much time feeling angry and unhappy," she writes. "He remembers that starting to change when he consciously decided to unhook from his own anger reactions. These are Tim's words: 'I started to realize that there was nothing to be gained by giving in to my temper. By not letting it get the best of me, I was in control. That made me feel good."

Another common problem Drew identifies is a family member's unwillingness to take responsibility for a conflict. By examining these "willingness blocks," young people and their parents can avoid reacting to a conflict, and instead think through and solve problems so that everyone wins.

Drew's book describes a host of conflict resolution techniques, backed by explanatory role plays, checklists and worksheets:

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-- Listening techniques to avoid miscommunication and foster mutual respect.

-- Speaking in "I messages" to diffuse rivalry and conflict.

-- How to solve conflicts when the other person isn't willing.

-- Three secrets for getting a handle on anger before a conflict erupts.

-- How to protect yourself from other people's anger.

-- Eight ways to stop teasing.

-- What to do if someone is bullying you.

-- A day-by-day action plan to help you grow into a conflict solver.

Drew's son Tim, who once had a bad temper as a child, is now a police officer who uses anger management and conflict-solving skills in all areas of his life, including his work. He told his mother, "I am really glad I learned to do this when I was a kid."

"The Kid's Guide to Working Out Conflicts" will help parents and kids do the same thing -- get a head start on learning one of life's most valuable skills.

Courtesy of ARA Content

This page is updated on March 14, 2013

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