In early years, children already have to manage conflicts of different levels. Even in a sandbox there may be disputes between toddlers. Naturally, every parent tries to raise their kid sociable, teach them manners, etiquette, to be willing to share, not to take other children’s stuff, avoid conflicts. However, the way a child must behave is largely controversial, as every parent has their own opinion. Besides, many grown-ups consciously or unconsciously praise petty ruffianism (particularly when raising boys), which later would cause conflicts with other kids. To improve our society and make it safer, kids need to be taught not to start a fight, but to stand for themselves. These 12 simple and useful phrases will help with this – a must have tool for every parent.
1. Always remember about your rights
Some children believe in the rule of strength. Bullying and physical domination are very common in kindergartens and schools. Although, a child must understand, that nobody has a right to humiliate, abuse, mock somebody, or cause pain. The same applies to your kid, they don’t get to do it to others.
2. Respect your own opinion
Kids are very naïve – they trust everything grown-ups say, and then apply this model in communication with peers. As in our society, there are leaders and followers. First are always sure they are right, and the others prefer to conform and fall in line. Engage your kids in discussions on various topics from early years, make them believe that they are consulted with in order to teach them to take a stand for their own opinions.
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3. Don’t be afraid to say 'no'
A child needs to understand that they have a choice. If they don’t want to participate in something they believe is wrong or scary, they shouldn’t yield to peer pressure or simply follow the strongest kids. If a child stands by their convictions and firmly draws a line, others will automatically start respecting their opinion.
4. There is no shame in asking for help
When a kid feels that they lose control over something, they may get afraid, embarrassed, feel an urge to give in and put up. They need to realize that there are people who can advise and help – teachers and parents.
5. Don’t encourage those who mock
Giving nicknames to one another is OK if they are friendly or good-natured. However, this is more suitable for close people, for example, relatives. Children are often cruel and it’s not nicknames, but offensive taunts, what they make up. Children need to be explained that they need to respond to their name only, and they can ignore everything they don’t like.
6. Be consistent instead of fighting
A fight is the worst way of handling a conflict possible. Try to teach your child a three-stage algorithm for avoiding it. The first stage – bring it to wrongdoer’s notice that they have done wrong and caused you discomfort or pain, and ask why they did it. If they keep doing it, threaten with punishment (counter-actions or involvement of grown-ups). Finally, if it doesn’t work either, there is the third stage – make good on the threat. This way your child will learn to seek alternative methods of solving conflicts and will see that they are far more effective.
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7. You deserve to be treated well
This message is easy to send, just demonstrate it with your own example. First, show respect towards your child – they need to feel valued. Don’t let conflicts around your child go unnoticed – defend them from adults, who are being too strict or unfair, and from other kids, explaining to them why what they are doing is wrong.
8. You can try handling it yourself, but I am right beside you
When a child realizes what they are worth and what they deserve, they can try solving their own problems. But make sure to pay all the attention they need if they still ask you for any help. It is possible that they only need to discuss their decision, not have you do something for them.
9. Protect your boundaries
Children often pick up parent’s style of communication with other people and within family. If you push your child around at home, this model of humble submission and acceptance will become your child’s way of communicating with their peers. Learn to respect your child and trust them. Make sure that the conflicts in your house, if there are any, are resolved peacefully without raising the voice.
10. You should behave with dignity
Some parents teach their children to fight back, for example, mock or abuse back. This is wrong, as it will aggravate the conflict and provoke harsher actions of the adversary. It is better to explain to a child that this behavior is disgraceful, so you shouldn’t be offended by it.
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11. Stay positive
Many parents start telling their children how tough, dangerous and cruel the world is from early years. They try to protect the child from future disappointment, actually promoting fear. Teach your child to not focus on little trifles – two minutes ago some a kid pushed them, and in a minute your child will unintentionally bump into somebody else running around. The child needs to see the world as full of good with occasional stains of bad, not vice versa.
12. Take a punch
Sometimes it is not enough to stand up for yourself verbally. With years, children learn to resolve conflicts without resorting to force, but often your child will have to defend someone else, someone weaker, that’s why your child needs physical training. Wrestling or martial arts are a good choice, as most of them also teach to assume an active position in life.
Children’s conflicts are sometimes not less serious than grow-ups’, but there is usually less at stake. A child needs to know how to peacefully stand up for themselves, stand their ground, protect their dignity, but they also need to know that they have options.
The material in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the advice of a certified specialist.
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