Conflict between siblings
If you have more than one child, you will inevitably experience some sort of conflict between them. All children have unique personalities and at some point a disagreement among sibling will devolve into outright hostility. Your job as a parent will vary in this event, as you will play the roles of confidant, enforcer, judge and maybe even (but hopefully not!) medic. Kids can be demanding, and when they feel their needs are not being met they can lash out in outrageous behaviors to get your attention. Sometimes this manifests itself in the form of provocation against a sibling.
In my home, these instances often erupt into a 5 person free-for-all battle royal! This gives me an opportunity to see the family dynamic in a microcosm, as factions sometimes form, de-escalation tactics are usually not deployed, or, on rare occasions, full-blown (kiddie) battlefield tactics are utilized. It’s even gone as far as my second son (who practices karate) squaring off against my third son (who loves wrestling) duking it out in a pseudo-MMA match. Normally these thing happen due to goading from one side or a perceived slight, as children are ought to do.
Helping the children to understand what led to their actions and how to avoid it in the future is the key to curbing this behavior. Boo-boo’s may need to be kissed and bruised egos will definitely need to be massaged, but if the children start to understand what caused the issue in the first place and how to avoid it they will get along better and your life will be a little more peaceful.
Conflict with your spouse
This is where things get a little tricky. Children are one thing, as they are apt to obey their parents and rely on you for just about everything in their life. Your spouse, on the other hand, is an adult and as such may have options. The key to getting along with your significant other is to set firm guidelines and terms of respect. A mutual respect of both of your positions will go a long way to avoiding and resolving conflicts in your household on both an immediate and long-term scale.
My relationship with my wife is very positive. I attribute this to the structure of our household and the delegation of duties within it. As the “bread-winner”, I make the majority of the decisions regarding the household. This, however, does not mean that I get to live out a tyrannical fantasy where I just get to boss everyone around. On every major decision I ask for my wife’s input and for her opinions on things. This small gesture helps us function as a more dynamic team, and we are both in roles where we are best suited.
Although our relationship is quite good, there are times where friction exists between my wife and I. The most sincere and effective method of resolving such disputes that I’ve developed is to separate myself from the circumstances and empathize with the opposing point of view. This approach allows me to not only understand where my wife is basing her stance on the pertinent issue, but allows me to see potential flaws in my argument. Empathy is paramount in this approach, as it normally allows for cooler heads to prevail and for realization of the flawed basis on most of our arguments. Using this technique has almost entirely eliminated the disagreements in our relationship, but as others’ personalities are different, results may vary.
Conflict between you and your child(ren)
Remember when I said that children are apt to obey their parents? When they are mad at each other, parental intervention can be seen as serious deterrent. But sometimes their anger gets channeled in another path and the script becomes unrecognizable when they are mad at you. I’ve seen my fair share of meltdowns from my kids, with some so bad I wanted to reach for the holy water!
The best method of de-escalation with children is to not let your emotions get in the way of good parenting. If you try to emote to their level you will lose control and nothing will be resolved, plus you’ll have the added bonus of a child who hates you for a while and doesn’t know why.
As we all know, children are not fully developed mentally, and in their formative years they primarily run on their emotions. The world doesn’t make sense to them and the wrong stimulus will cause them to lash out. Sometimes that stimulus could be you. When an issue with a child becomes apparent, you must understand the mindset that they exist in, and use that to calm them instead of inflaming the situation. It may not be immediate, but they will come to appreciate being handled in a firm but fair manner.
Conflict is inevitable. It’s in our very fibers as a human. The manner in which we handle such issues is what defines us as well as our family relationships. By using sound and fair judgment, you can be the leader that you want to be and the leader that your family deserves. As the anonymous Greek proverb goes: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in”. The relationships that we forge with our children early on are the seeds that we will harvest when we are older.