The holidays can be a great time to practice conflict resolution skills. More people + more perspectives = more conflict. Whether it’s with partners, family members, or children, some of the same skills can work for us all. Try using the four C’s of Conflict Resolution: Calm, Curiosity, Collaboration and Connection when conflict emerges.
1. Calm: Try using positive self-talk or taking deep breaths to calm yourself when conflict emerges. Maybe say to yourself, “I can handle this conflict, I’ve got this.” We are much better able to navigate conflict when we have our body calm and regulated. This also helps those around us regulate too since emotions can be contagious.
2. Curiosity: Use curiosity to explore what the other person is trying to communicate. You don’t have to agree with them, but try reflecting back to them what you hear them say. “I see, you are thinking that pumpkin pie would be better than pecan this year.” This helps the other person feel heard and understood and helps you move into a place of understanding, from which you can problem solve.
3. Collaboration: Explore the possibilities of problem-solving the conflict. Take the time to express your own perspective and see if you can encourage the other person to engage with you in coming up with creative solutions. Even children can learn to do this. Is there a solution that could lead to everyone being happy? If not, what would be another creative option.
4. Connection: Whether you came up with a mutual solution, or ended with an “agree to disagree” scenario, we can almost always find a way to connect and repair with the ones we love. Letting a child know, “it’s okay to be sad about my decision” or letting a relative know, “I hear how disappointing it is to change plans this year. I feel sad about it too. I cannot wait to see you again next year.” can remind us that conflict is a natural part of relationships and we can get through these moments with love and connection.
There are many resources and tools available these days to support young children in learning these conflict resolution skills early on. Slumberkins Conflict Resolution Collection with Hammerhead Shark offers more tools and support for moving through these moments together.