by Cheryl Jackson Wednesday June 17, 2009

One of my very dear friends had this conversation with his dad when he was a kid:

"Dad, Johnnie was mad at me today and tried to fight me."

"Well, that's no good,"  said Dad.  "Come into the back yard and let me show you how to fight."  My friend had his boxing lesson, but never did come to blows with his enemy. 

Today,  the conversation would likely have gone like this:

"Dad, Johnnie was mad at me today and tried to fight me."

"Well, that's no good," says Dad.  "What caused the problem?"   From there, Dad would probably encourage his son to talk to his classmate and work out a solution.

Conflict resolution has evolved, thank goodness, and is now a part of many discussions at home and in classrooms.  My son once had a teacher who used the Tribes programme, which we talked about on Your Voice.  At the time, I thought this was some brilliant idea she'd come up with to help a particularly difficult class work peacefully together.  In fact, it's a well-known programme used all over North America, which teaches children to be mindful of others, to listen and to be respectful in their decisions as a group.  In my son's case, it worked, and they were able to make a movie together, with minimal conflict.  The next year, they became entrepreneurs and formed a company, each with their own roles and duties, no doubt built on the ideas of the Tribes programme.

All kids get into conflicts with each other.  That's normal. They need to learn how to get out of them, and often they can manage to do that on their own.  But there are learned skills that will make it easier.  Watch our show and check out our other resources, including articles on conflict resolution in practice, and teaching kids to build healthy relationships.  You'll find out what schools are doing to encourage conflict resolution, and how you, as parents, can help.