How can I help my children use their WITS to resolve conflicts?
When children are experiencing problems with peer conflict, it’s natural for parents to want to come to their rescue, swooping in to solve the problem and protect their children. One of the best things parents can do, however, is help their children use their WITS to solve the problem.
A Closer Look: Evaluating and Responding
In order to help children use their WITS, parents must first learn more about the situation. Get a sense of the problem using the steps below:
- Listen: Not all children will be able to immediately articulate the details of a conflict. Sometimes it is easier to start by describing their feelings, and then the experience that prompted their feelings. You may wish to guide your child’s description by asking questions. What happened? Does this happen a lot? What did you do to try to deal with the situation? Did it work?
- Affirm: Reassure your child that he or she was right to tell you about the conflict and that you will help them.
Help your child determine how to respond by using his or her WITS. Be solution-focused. This is a problem that can be solved!
- Walk away: Role-play the incident with your child to help him or her practise walking away from a situation. Ask your child what might happen if he or she walked away. Would it solve the problem? If not, try another WITS strategy.
- Ignore: Discuss ways to ignore, such as physically removing oneself from the situation or withdrawing eye contact. Ask your child what might happen if he or she ignored the child bothering him or her. Would it solve the problem? If not, try another WITS strategy.
- Talk it out: Suggest questions or statements your child could use to “talk it out” with the person bothering him or her. Sometimes telling the person to stop is enough. Making a joke can also help defuse a conflict. Ask your child what might happen if he or she talked it out. Would it solve the problem? If not, try another WITS strategy.
- Seek help: Suggest other adults your child could go to for help, such as a teacher or playground supervisor. Ask your child what might happen if he or she asked another adult for help. Would it solve the problem? Who else could he or she seek help from?
Parent Toolkit: LEADS Journal Entry Template
When a child experiences chronic peer conflict, it may be necessary for parents to seek help on his or her behalf. Help determine the severity of the situation by using the LEADS Journal Entry Template to jot down notes each time your child confides in you about a peer conflict problem.
Review your entries every month. If your child’s problems appear to be chronic, it may be time to seek help. Learn more here.