Conflict resolution skills help your child deal with confrontation.

How to Help Kids Handle Confrontation

by Shelley Frost

The potential for conflict lies anywhere -- on the playground, in the classroom, even at home. You want to rush to your child's aid, but letting him handle confrontation on his own teaches him the skills he needs to handle conflict throughout life, according to child expert and author Dr. Michele Borba. Your child becomes a problem solver when difficult situations arise. He also learns self-control and improves his social skills when he knows how to navigate a confrontation.

1 Model your own conflict management skills so your child sees how to handle potential confrontation. Your child uses what he sees you do to shape his own behavior, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If you blow up over every little situation or instigate confrontations yourself, your child learns to deal with conflict in the same way.

2 Practice breathing exercises that your child can put into use in a stressful situation. When you notice him getting upset, say, "Let's sit down together and take some deep breaths. Suck in as much air as possible to fill up your lungs. Blow out all that angry air like you're blowing the seeds off a dandelion." Encourage him to use the breathing techniques any time he feels a difficult situation arise.

3 Role-play confrontational situations before they happen so your child can practice handling them. Pretend to do something that could cause a confrontation, such as taking away a favorite toy. Let him work through the resolution process. After the role-play, discuss what he did and what he could do differently if the situation really happened.

4 Guide your child through actual conflict situations that you witness without jumping in and solving the problem. Avoid blaming one child or taking sides in the argument. Serve as an arbitrator more than a judge as you help deescalate the situation.

5 Teach your child to use "I" statements when talking to a peer in a confrontational situation. Say, "Can you tell him how you feel? You could say, 'I feel angry when you push me out of the way.' If you point the finger at him instead of saying how it makes you feel, he might not listen and continue disagreeing."

6 Brainstorm resolutions with your child when he faces conflict in your presence. Common ways to deescalate a confrontation include negotiating a compromise, taking turns or simply walking away. If his brother pushed his board game off the table because he wanted to build with blocks on the table, suggest that they pick up the game together. They might play the board game first, clean it up and then build with blocks together.

7 Help your child put himself in the other person's place. If his sibling gets mad when he crumples up a piece of artwork, talk about how it would feel. Say, "How do you think your brother feels? You crumpled the painting that he worked so hard to do. How would you feel if he ruined your painting?"

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