Has your child ever had a conflict at school? When my son was in Elementary school he had a few conflicts at school with some of the boys in his class. I sought the guidance of Dr. Jen Foristall – creator of “The Umbrella Project”.
As our children are trying to navigate the world of relationships they will be faced with many different dynamics. There can be value in conflict because this teaches us about boundaries. We want to teach our kids how to make critical decisions between right and wrong and sometimes the way we learn what is right is by doing something “wrong”. Dr. Foristall encouraged us to continue to frame conflicts as positive because when else will you learn to deal with this situation. Every time a conflict arises, it is an opportunity to learn conflict resolution skills.
When I was growing up, I longed for a best friend, and I wanted that for my son. However, Dr. Foristall taught us that having one best friend can put you at the mercy of that relationship. If that person decides they no longer like you, then you are left with no one. It is better to have a friend basket of friends from different aspects of your life ie family friends, soccer friends, cousins, hockey etc. This gives you a few places you can go for social support.
It is important to allow our kids to handle situations – if we do it for them, then they never learn to stand up for themselves. We need to allow them the space to develop the confidence to solve it on their own. Life is a bumpy road and it is not always going to go the way we want it to. Children need to learn this important lesson.
The key is to focus on building skills in our kids, such as resilience, grit, compassion, empathy and kindness. Teaching them to try to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and to view the situation from another perspective might help. If you can try to understand what that person is trying to get – and in many cases, it is love and attention — then you might be able to understand that their behaviour or actions are not really about you.
Some questions to ask your child in the face of conflict are:
- How did it make you feel?
- How did you handle it?
- Do you think fighting back is the right thing?
- What happened?
- How did you respond?
- What do you think was going on for that person?
What you say to your children matters most. What you do and how you respond to your children also matters. They will end up modelling our behaviour so we want to always remember that just as we are watching our children, they are watching us. And sometimes by doing it “wrong” we teach them the “right” way to be.
If you would like an umbrella assessment for your child, please contact Dr. Jen Forristall at 519- 745-1600 or check out her website at: http://mydrjen.com