Category Archives: Teaching Children

Conflict Resolution Skills

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Conflict resolution is good and healthy

Building the Skills That Can Turn Conflicts into Opportunities

Conflict is a normal part of any healthy relationship.  After all, two people can’t be expected to agree on everything, all the time. Learning how to deal with conflict—rather than avoiding it—is crucial. 

When conflict is mismanaged, it can cause great harm to a relationship, but when handled in a respectful, positive way, conflict provides an opportunity to strengthen the bond between two people.  By learning these skills for conflict resolution, you can keep your personal and professional relationships strong and growing.

Understanding conflict in relationships

Conflict arises from differences, both large and small. It occurs whenever people disagree over their values, motivations, perceptions, ideas, or desires.  Sometimes these differences appear trivial, but when a conflict triggers strong feelings, a deep personal need is often at the core of the problem.  These needs can be a need to feel safe and secure, a need to feel respected and valued, or a need for greater closeness and intimacy.

Conflicts arise from differing needs

Everyone needs to feel understood, nurtured, and supported, but the ways in which these needs are met vary widely.  Differing needs for feeling comfortable and safe create some of the most severe challenges in our personal and professional relationships.

Think about the conflicting need for safety and continuity versus the need to explore and take risks. You frequently see this conflict between toddlers and their parents.  The child’s need is to explore, so the street or the cliff meets a need.  But the parents’ need is to protect the child’s safety, so limiting exploration becomes a bone of contention between them.

The needs of both parties play important roles in the long-term success of most relationships, and each deserves respect and consideration. 

In personal relationships, a lack of understanding about differing needs can result in distance, arguments, and break-ups. 

In workplace conflicts, differing needs are often at the heart of bitter disputes, sometimes resulting in broken deals, fewer profits and lost jobs. 

When you can recognize the legitimacy of conflicting needs and become willing to examine them in an environment of compassionate understanding, it opens pathways to creative problem solving, team building, and improved relationships.

Conflict 101

A conflict is more than just a disagreement.  It is a situation in which one or both parties perceive a threat (whether or not the threat is real).

 Conflicts continue to fester when ignored. Because conflicts involve perceived threats to our well-being and survival, they stay with us until we face and resolve them.

We respond to conflicts based on our perceptions of the situation, not necessarily to an objective review of the facts.  Our perceptions are influenced by our life experiences, culture, values, and beliefs.

Conflicts trigger strong emotions.  If you aren’t comfortable with your emotions or able to manage them in times of stress, you won’t be able to resolve conflict successfully.

Conflicts are an opportunity for growth.  When you’re able to resolve conflict in a relationship, it builds trust.  You can feel secure knowing your relationship can survive challenges and disagreements.

Emotional Awareness

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Emotional awareness is the key to understanding yourself and others

Emotional awareness:  The second core conflict resolution skill

Emotional awareness is the key to understanding yourself and others.  If you don’t know how you feel or why you feel that way, you won’t be able to communicate effectively or resolve disagreements.

Although knowing your own feelings may sound simple, many people ignore or try to sedate strong emotions like anger, sadness, and fear.  Your ability to handle conflict, however, depends on being connected to these feelings.  If you’re afraid of strong emotions or if you insist on finding solutions that are strictly rational, your ability to face and resolve differences will be impaired.

Why emotional awareness is a key factor in resolving conflict

Emotional awareness—the consciousness of your moment-to-moment emotional experience—and the ability to manage all of your feelings appropriately is the basis of a communication process that can resolve conflict.

Emotional awareness helps you:

  • Understand what is really troubling other people
  • Understand yourself, including what is really troubling you
  • Stay motivated until the conflict is resolved
  • Communicate clearly and effectively
  • Attract and influence others

Assessing your ability to recognize and manage emotions

The following quiz helps you assess your level of emotional awareness.  Answer the following questions with: almost never, occasionally, often, very frequently, or almost always.  There are no right or wrong responses, only the opportunity to become better acquainted with your emotional responses.

What kind of relationship do I have with my emotions?

  • Do you experience feelings that flow, encountering one emotion after another as your experiences change from moment to moment?
  • Are your emotions accompanied by physical sensations that you experience in places like your stomach or chest?
  • Do you experience discrete feelings and emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear, joy, each of which is evident in subtle facial expressions?
  • Can you experience intense feelings that are strong enough to capture both your attention and that of others?
  • Do you pay attention to your emotions?  Do they factor into your decision-making?

If any of these experiences are unfamiliar, your emotions may be turned down or even turned off.  In either case, you may need help developing your emotional awareness.  You can do this by using Helpguide’s free emotional intelligence toolkit .

Resource – HelpGuide.org

Local Nonprofit Making Impact Statewide FL

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Monique Burr Foundation for Children Inc

Jacksonville, FL  –  A local program is making a huge impact statewide.

  • It teaches a half-million Florida schoolchildren how to protect themselves and their friends from being victims of child abuse, sexual abuse and bullying.
  • It produces solid, research-driven evidence that leads to pupils coming forward with reports of abuse, abusers being identified for victimizing children and kids being put in safer environments.
  • It is so easily implemented that counselors in hundreds of Florida schools have been effortlessly instructed on how to teach the lesson plan to pupils — and in an efficient, age-appropriate manner that doesn’t require huge chunks of classroom time and leaves staffers raving about its effectiveness.
  • It is provided free of charge to any school in any Florida district that requests it.

In the Duval County public schools alone, this prevention education is being provided to every pupil in kindergarten to sixth grade as well as kids in all but 12 of Florida’s 67 counties.

COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH

This impressive work is ably carried out in inspiring fashion by the Monique Burr Foundation, a local nonprofit whose Child Safety Matters program is winning national acclaim for its revolutionary approach to educating children to avoid being victimized by abuse — and, equally important, empowering those who have been abused to report it and prevent it from ever happening again.

“(Child Safety Matters) is comprehensive in approach and scope, and it saves lives,” said Ed Burr, the Jacksonville businessman who launched the Monique Burr Foundation nearly 20 years to honor his late wife, a devoted child advocate.

“When you can break the cycle of abuse,” Burr told the Times-Union editorial board, “you can change the lives not only of those kids but the generations that (follow them).”

The Child Safety Matters program has been extremely effective because it acknowledges the factor of polyvictimization — that children who are being sexually abused are usually being traumatized in other ways, too (bullying, violence, etc.) — and the reality that most kids are being victimized by adults and others they know or believed they could trust.

By using such a holistic and wide-ranging method to address abuse with pupils while in a classroom setting, Child Safety Matters has encouraged children to not only recognize when they are becoming targets of abuse, but to identify people they can immediately speak with and share what’s happening.

Among the strong partners are the Florida Department of Education, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, the Florida Department of Children and Families, Gov. Rick Scott’s office, the National Educators to Stop Trafficking and the Cyberbullying Research Center.

HIGH MARKS IN EVALUATIONS

Recently, the Child Safety Matters program was the subject of a rigorous, several-month evaluation by Florida State University’s respected School of Teacher Evaluation and received high marks not merely for how it empowered children to learn about preventing abuse, but for how easy it was set up for school counselors teaching it to carry out the standardized lesson plan.

In short, Child Safety Matters is helping children.

It is putting an end to ongoing abuse.

And it is preventing future abuse.

The program is doing so well — and at no cost to the school districts around this state that use it — that the question isn’t whether it works.

The only question is this:

Why are there still 12 counties in Florida that don’t think it’s worth having Child Safety Matters taught to their schoolchildren?

Assert Yourself

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Effective Communication

Improving communication skills #4:  Assert yourself

Direct, assertive expression makes for clear communication and can help boost self-esteem and decision-making.  Being assertive means expressing your thoughts, feelings, and needs in an open and honest way, while standing up for yourself and respecting others.  It does NOT mean being hostile, aggressive, or demanding.  Effective communication is always about understanding the other person, not about winning an argument or forcing your opinions on others.

To improve assertiveness:

  • Value yourself and your opinions.  They are as important as anyone else’s.
  • Know your needs and wants.  Learn to express them without infringing on the rights of others.
  • Express negative thoughts in a positive way.  It’s OK to be angry, but you must be respectful as well.
  • Receive feedback positively.  Accept compliments graciously, learn from your mistakes, ask for help when needed.
  • Learn to say “no.”  Know your limits and don’t let others take advantage of you.  Look for alternatives so everyone feels good about the outcome.

Developing assertive communication techniques

  • Empathetic assertion conveys sensitivity to the other person. First, recognize the other person’s situation or feelings, then state your needs or opinion.  “I know you’ve been very busy at work, but I want you to make time for us as well.”
  • Escalating assertion can be used when your first attempts are not successful.  You become increasingly firm as time progresses, which may include outlining consequences if your needs are not met.  For example, “If you don’t abide by the contract, I’ll be forced to pursue legal action.”
  • Practice assertiveness in lower risk situations to start with to help build up your confidence.  Or ask friends or family if you can practice assertiveness techniques on them first.

Source: helpguide.org

Keep Stress In Check

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Keep Stress In Check

Improving communication skills #3:  Keep stress in check

To communicate effectively, you need to be aware of and in control of your emotions.  And that means learning how to manage stress. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to misread other people, send confusing or off-putting nonverbal signals, and lapse into unhealthy knee-jerk patterns of behavior.

How many times have you felt stressed during a disagreement with your spouse, kids, boss, friends, or coworkers and then said or done something you later regretted?  If you can quickly relieve stress and return to a calm state, you’ll not only avoid such regrets, but in many cases you’ll also help to calm the other person as well.  It’s only when you’re in a calm, relaxed state that you’ll be able to know whether the situation requires a response, or whether the other person’s signals indicate it would be better to remain silent.

Staying calm under pressure

In situations such as a job interview, business presentation, high-pressure meeting, or introduction to a loved one’s family, for example, it’s important to manage your emotions, think on your feet, and effectively communicate under pressure. These tips can help:

  • Use stalling tactics to give yourself time to think.  Have a question repeated, or ask for clarification of a statement before responding.
  • Pause to collect your thoughts.  Silence isn’t necessarily a bad thing—pausing can make you seem more in control than rushing your response.
  • Make one point and provide an example or supporting piece of information.  If your response is too long or you waffle about a number of points, you risk losing the listener’s interest.  Follow one point with an example and then gauge the listener’s reaction to tell if you should make a second point.
  • Deliver your words clearly.  In many cases, how you say something can be as important as what you say.  Speak clearly, maintain an even tone, and make eye contact.  Keep your body language relaxed and open.
  • Wrap up with a summary and then stop.  Summarize your response and then stop talking, even if it leaves a silence in the room.  You don’t have to fill the silence by continuing to talk.

Quick stress relief for effective communication

When things start to get heated in the middle of a conversation, you need something quick and immediate to bring down the emotional intensity.  By learning to quickly reduce stress in the moment, though, you can safely face any strong emotions you’re experiencing, regulate your feelings, and behave appropriately. When you know how to maintain a relaxed, energized state of awareness—even when something upsetting happens—you can remain emotionally available and engaged.

To deal with stress during communication:

  • Recognize when you’re becoming stressed.  Your body will let you know if you’re stressed as you communicate.  Are your muscles or your stomach tight and/or sore?  Are your hands clenched? Is your breath shallow?  Are you “forgetting” to breathe?
  • Take a moment to calm down before deciding to continue a conversation or postpone it.
  • Bring your senses to the rescue and quickly manage stress by taking a few deep breaths, clenching and relaxing muscles, or recalling a soothing, sensory-rich image, for example.  The best way to rapidly and reliably relieve stress is through the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.  But each person responds differently to sensory input, so you need to find things that are soothing to you.
  • Look for humor in the situation.  When used appropriately, humor is a great way to relieve stress when communicating.  When you or those around you start taking things too seriously, find a way to lighten the mood by sharing a joke or amusing story.
  • Be willing to compromise.  Sometimes, if you can both bend a little, you’ll be able to find a happy middle ground that reduces the stress levels for everyone concerned.  If you realize that the other person cares much more about something than you do, compromise may be easier for you and a good investment in the future of the relationship.
  • Agree to disagree, if necessary, and take time away from the situation so everyone can calm down.  Take a quick break and move away from the situation. Go for a stroll outside if possible, or spend a few minutes meditating.  Physical movement or finding a quiet place to regain your balance can quickly reduce stress.

Source: helpguide.org