New Year’s Resolution of Healthy Conflict Resolution
By Jake Davis, School Counselor
Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a restful winter break and a sense of renewal as we continue through these winter months of school. The two weeks away from school gave me time to reflect on the needs, challenges, strengths, and development of our EPS students. While a counseling program addresses a multitude of services for students and families, one theme that has been consistent in my work with adolescents and teens this year has been healthy conflict resolution skills.
Throughout the middle school and upper school years, students are working out and learning how to disagree, communicate assertively, show respect and empathy, all while tackling the challenge of taking on the perspective of another. Of course, these challenges and skills play out at home as well.
Sometimes it’s conflict with siblings, oppositional behavior toward parents, or impulsive lashing out, and other times passive behaviors or quiet aggression may be present. At school, many students have been coming to the counseling office to better understand their conflict resolution style and behaviors. Once a student identifies the way they typically respond to conflict, we explore healthy and productive ways to address these communication challenges. As we begin this new year, it would be great to explore your own family’s way of managing conflict and creating a family resolution. This process is not only helpful to children but a great opportunity to understand your own style and how it impacts and plays out in your family dynamic. Adolescents are keen observers of how we address our challenges and conflicts. Taking this resolution on as a family in which all members are challenging themselves is the most effective way to produce positive change.
There are ways of fighting that are unfair and those are important to discuss as a family. In addition to becoming clear about words, intentions, and actions that are destructive to relationships, the link below has also listed simple ways to teach children alternatives so that not only do they understand what NOT to do but what TO do.
In addition, consider printing this family pledge and hold a family meeting to discuss new ways to address conflict in this new year!