While we are on a mission to raise courageous and confident girls, we need to intentionally equip them with the skills they will use at school, in the workplace, and in their everyday life. One skill we can’t avoid is conflict resolution. We know that conflict is a fact of life. Avoiding it is not an option. The most courageous training we can offer our daughters is to help them know how to deal with it in the healthiest way possible. Here are 3 tips for teaching your daughter how to deal with conflict:
1-Practice communicating feelings clearly and confidently. Our emotions matter. We don’t want to set them aside entirely—especially when dealing with conflict. By naming our feelings and owning them, upfront, we will be able to move towards a more peaceful resolution. The key is being allowed to feel what we are feeling, and move through the given emotion without getting stuck for too long. Ask your daughter to give as many descriptive words as she can to what she is feeling in a moment of conflict. Is she angry? Frustrated? Hurt? Sad? If she is extremely upset, it might take some time for her to be able to find the right words. You might try modeling this to her, “It sounds to me like you might be feeling angry? Does that put words to what you are feeling?” When you provide a safe place for her to communicate her feelings, you will help her grow in confidence to do so with others.
2-Practice listening with your daughter. Sometimes the biggest obstacle we have in conflict resolution is that everyone wants to speak at the same time. Conflict can turn us into horrible listeners. Our girls are growing and changing at an alarming rate. Often, they just need to vent and hear themselves say aloud what is rumbling around in their own heads. When a conflict arises at home, invite her to speak first, and practice listening to what she is saying. With the goal of understanding (vs. correcting) what is underneath all of the emotion, you might just be able to get to the heart of the matter quickly and prevent it from getting worse. As you are listening demonstrate eye contact, positive body language, and openness. Later, ask her what she noticed in you as you were listening to her. Did she feel safe? Was she able to get everything out on the table because you listened well? It is important to demonstrate this and circle back at a later time to identify what listening looks like and how it makes us feel to be on the receiving end.
3-Practice agreeing to disagree. Conflict resolution is not about winning or getting the last word. Sometimes the best solution is to agree to disagree. Not everyone we meet, work with or even go to church with will agree with us on every matter. And that is ok. Our goal is not to be the same, our goal is to work together and have harmony. One way to practice this with your daughter is to help her see things from another perspective. When we can “walk in another person’s shoes” it makes it easier for us to understand where they might be coming from. Even if we disagree with them, we can seek to understand and end up in a more helpful and peaceful place.
Practice. Practice. Practice. This is the key to learning conflict resolution. The next time you disagree with your daughter, be confident enough to lean in, and find the teaching moment that is presenting itself to both of you. In the process of finding a resolution, you will be giving the relational tools that will serve her for life.
Do you need a pep talk before you seize that moment? We have a Facebook group of moms just like you seeking to raise courageous girls who will gladly cheer you on. Join us here.