Resolving Family Conflicts - FamilyEducation

Resolving Family Conflicts

Address and resolve conflicts quickly, so that you and your child maintain open communication.

In This Article:

General tips

There are always conflicts, and that's a good thing! When effectively resolved, conflicts between people can lead to improved understanding and increased closeness. Here are some general tips for resolving conflict (and we'll get into specifics in a moment):

  • Listen, listen, listen.
  • Use “I” statements to express your feelings and perspectives.
  • Don't interrupt.
  • You can ask questions to clarify, but stay away from “why.” (“How” is a better choice.)
  • Keep your arguments in the present, and stay specific.
  • Don't dig up old dirt from the past.
  • Avoid “globalizing” the argument (by using words such as always, never, or should).
  • Taboo subjects are taboo—there are certain nasty comments that are off-limits in all relationships.
  • Keep your requests for behavior changes very specific. Don't ask for a personality transplant.

The Four Ways of Resolving Conflict

When you and your child are having a conflict, there are four basic ways the conflict can be resolved:

  • You can decide how to resolve the conflict. This is the “because I say so,” unilateral approach to conflict resolution. It may work, but Junior isn't going to feel any kind of satisfaction.
  • Junior can be the winner of the big decision-making contest. It's he who decides the outcome of the conflict. Feel good? I doubt it.
  • You have the option of resolving the conflict through compromise. If you com-promise, you give a little, Junior gives a little, and you come to an agreement. Neither of you necessarily feels great about it, though.
  • Ah, problem-solving! You and Junior can collaborate for a “win-win” (as they say in business school). Yup, it sometimes takes some time to get here, but doesn't it feel good? You bet!
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