Allowing children and adolescents to resolve their own conflicts helps them learn problem-solving skills and gives them a sense of autonomy. That said, parental involvement can be helpful in certain contexts, particularly when the child is coping with a serious issue that he is not developmentally prepared to resolve on his own. For example, parental involvement may not be warranted in minor conflicts between two peers, but in serious bullying situations where the child’s safety is at risk, children can benefit when parents are a part of the problem-solving process.
The National Education Association explains that parents can model appropriate conflict management skills simply by the way that they approach difficult situations with a principal or school administrator. For example, if a parent respectfully articulates her concerns about her child’s well-being in the school setting, the child will see that he does not need to resort to anger or aggression to resolve even heated conflicts.
If a child is experiencing significant struggles with authority figures -- such as conflicts with teachers -- parents can be valuable advocates in the conflict resolution process. This can be particularly true for young children or adolescents with special needs who may not have the ability to advocate for themselves. Further, the Arizona State Department of Education explains that “as a parent, you are the best person to advocate for your child because you know his strengths and needs, likes and dislikes.”
Reporting Necessary Information
Marlene Snyder, Ph.D., of the Great Schools website, explains that in situations where a conflict is causing changes to a child’s behavior at home, it can be useful for parents to log those behaviors and report them as part of the conflict resolution process. By keeping a log of the problematic behaviors and the dates and details of the conflicts the child is reporting, parents can ensure that authorities, teachers and school officials have comprehensive and accurate information.
Partnering With Schools
Parents and schools can form a powerful partnership, particularly when it comes to conflict resolution. Since both parents and schools have the same goals in mind -- that is, protecting the child and ensuring that his needs are met -- involving parents in conflict resolution can lead to healthier resolutions for all parties to the conflict. Even when the child’s conflict is with a school official, when parents act as partners and keep the child’s overall goals and needs in mind, conflict resolution can be streamlined by making the process cooperative, rather than adversarial.
By participating in the conflict resolution process, parents can provide their children with emotional support. Further, by remaining engaged in the conflict resolution process, parents will have a clear understanding of their child’s experiences and be able to offer appropriate emotional support and behavioral guidance. The PTA Parenting Guide explains that empowering children and helping them develop healthy self-esteem can lead to stronger conflict resolution skills both at home and in the community.