Resolving Conflict
Email Header
G-r-o-w-i-n-g Pains
February  2023 

The middle school years can be challenging for kids. Preteens are coping with changing bodies and relationships. They're questioning who they are and how they fit in. Kids this age can be best friends one day and enemies the next. They may face conflicts at school, outside of school and at home. All of this can be  overwhelming for preteens  —and for parents too. 

In this Snapshot we will share strategies to help you and your child navigate some of the pressures and conflicts common in adolescence.

Thank you for being a Friend
Preteens are often extremely focused on their social lives and start putting more value on the relationships with their peers and friends.

But don‘t let that convince you that you don‘t matter anymore. They may seem more distant, but they‘re still listening and learning from you. 
You can still be their greatest  influence when it comes to learning to communicate better and have healthy friendships and relationships. You can help your preteen understand these important — and sometimes painful — lessons about friendships.

Friendships change and shift over time. For example, it‘s normal for your best friend in elementary school to be a different person than your best friend in middle school or high school.

Wanting to hang out with new people is totally okay. You don‘t have to stick to 1 friend group. Sometimes your interests change and you want to hang out with people you have new things in common with — and that‘s totally okay. But what‘s not okay is being mean to your old friends.

Real friends don‘t pressure you into doing things you don‘t want to do. Respect means never pressuring someone to do something they‘re not comfortable with. A good friend is someone who cares about your feelings and respects your choices
You can have a disagreement with someone but still be respectful. Everyone has disagreements sometimes — even the closest of friends. But people who care about each other treat each other with respect, even when they disagree with each other. Spreading rumors about someone, turning other people against them, name-calling, betraying their trust by sharing their secrets, and physical violence are never okay. 
Teens may not always open up to you about conflicts with peers. But when they do, here are some tips to help them navigate the situation.
Acknowledge feelings. Conflict is a natural part of life. It's okay to be angry or feel hurt. Let children know that their feelings are real and valid and that you are there for support. 

Stay calm. Help teens see that it's hard to solve a problem when they're upset. You can share some strategies for them to calm down. Breathing exercises might help them calm down in the moment as well as after.

Speak up. Conflict resolution requires conversation. Help children prepare to talk about conflict with their peers. Encourage them to plan what they might like to say. Writing a practice letter can help them  decide what's most important to talk about. 
Perspective. Understanding the other side can help with resolving the issue. Ask children to try to imagine the other person's experience, even if they don't agree with their peer's perspective.

Prepare. You can prep your teen before a real conflict arises. Tell them a story about how you handled conflict as a teen. What worked? What didn't work? What do you wish you had done differently?

Recall. Ask your child to talk about past conflicts that they think they handled well. What do other kids do that works? What things don't work? When is it time to walk away from a friend?
Follow up. Talk to your child about conflict before, during, and after it occurs. Ongoing conversations help keep communication channels open and increase trust. Your child will probably appreciate it, even if they don't always admit it.

Video - I thought you were my friend
A heartfelt and powerful talk on the topics of conflict, bullying and friendship. 
Standing Strong
Your preteen probably wants more than anything to impress their friends and feel like they fit in. You can help them learn how to handle that pressure and make good decisions by helping them think for themselves. Here are some things you can do to help your adolescent combat peer pressure.
Be firm about your rules. Let your child know that peer pressure is going to happen, but they still have to follow the rules.

Give them an out. Let them know they can use you as an out in tricky situations, by saying something like "I'd get in major trouble..." Or you can have a coded text or phone message if they want to get out of something that feels uncomfortable or unsafe.
Practice saying no. Help them come up with ideas on how to get out of situations they'll probably face like pressure to smoke, drink, steal, skip class, or cheat.

Encourage them to stick up for others. Talk to them about how they would handle it if they saw someone else being pressured into something they didn‘t want to do. 

Get to know their friends and their friends‘ parents. Research shows that knowing your kid‘s friends and their parents can help your preteen stay safe and healthy.

Try to understand what motivates them. Talk with them about the reasons they might feel tempted to give into peer pressure — or why they may have already given into pressure.
Preteens often say they want to fit in or feel accepted, or that “everyone‘s doing it.” But they often overestimate the proportion of other kids who are doing certain things. You can help them understand that.
Why Teens Fight With Their Parents!
Though hormones play a role in adolescent moodiness the main cause of turbulence is the teen's own uncertainty about who they are, coupled with their eager need to establish a sense of identity. This involves self-questioning, self-discovery, and self-development across a range of issues.

Arguments with parents can often be understood in this context. While  common quarrels are about curfews, homework and housework, a teenager's underlying need is their parent's acknowledgement of their maturity, capability, and human value.

"No, you can't go out tonight"  to a teen implies that a parent doesn't trust them to make their own decisions. And in a teen's eyes, that's not only unfair; it's humiliating. A parent asks a checking-up question, and the teen feels like a little child again. "Have you got your keys?" is loaded with the  implication, "You're not able to look after yourself."
Teens get so heated in arguments with parents because so much is at stake. They are fighting to change their relationship with the parent, to make the parent see that they are not the child the parent thinks they know. One way to reduce the fighting involves giving your child increasing levels of freedom and responsibility. Following are a few suggestions.
Allow them to determine their appearance. This area of their life is essential to finding out who they are.  Adolescents use their appearance to explore parts of their identity that they're still discovering, it's important to give them the room to experiment. There may be times when you both need to agree on what is appropriate.
Give them some areas in their lives where they are completely in control. Think about the issues you feel confident they are ready to take on. Commit to accepting their decisions, even if you don‘t agree with them. This could be from getting to and from school on their own, taking public transport, getting a part time job or being in control of their bedrooms. 

Involve your child in big decisions that affect their lives. Examples may include: the subjects they take at school, curfews, and rules for using devices, etc. If they are involved in making these decisions they are more likely to honour them, and it will give them a sense of control over their lives.

Treating your adolescent more like an adult does not mean giving them complete freedom or neglecting to provide boundaries, but rather finding a balance between giving them increasing responsibility while still providing guidance and support.

February School Poster

Pink Shirt Day February 22, 2023

The goal of Pink Shirt Day is to create a more kind, inclusive world.

This poster speaks to the importance of being kind to ourselves. Kindness to ourselves is kindness to others. As our own well-being increases, we are more able and likely to be patient, supportive, forgiving, and loving. To take care of others, we have to take care of our self; otherwise we start running on empty. As we grow in happiness and inner strength we have more to offer to others.

We Want to Hear from You!
Do you enjoy the monthly Snapshots? 

Do you have suggestions on how to improve the Snapshots?

Do you have ideas for future topics?

Let us know!
We would love to hear from you!

The content provided through the Snapshots is for information purposes only. The Snapshots include information that is general in nature and cannot address the many individual child rearing challenges parents and caregivers may experience. Therefore it is the readers’ responsibility to determine the suitability of the information for their specific needs.

Resources and Sources
Learning About Helping Your Young Teen Deal With Conflict
Teens and Parents in Conflict
Balance Trust and Freedom with Your Teen
Kids Health
Love is Respect

Books to help you parent a middle schooler
  • Getting to Calm by Laura S. Kastner
  • How to Talk so Teens Will Listen and Listen so Teens will talk by Adel Faber and Elaine Mazlish
  • Yes your Teen is Crazy!  Loving your Kid without Losing your Mind by Michael J. Bradley
  • Untangled by Lisa Damour
  • Have a New Teenager by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman
  • Parenting your Teen -  A Relationship Training Manual by David Unger
  • A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens by Joani Geltman
  • Parenting Teens with Love and Logic by Jim Fay
In cased you missed it... last month's Snapshot was on teen anxiety and depression

Archived Snapshots
Full Image