Teaching youth to better manage conflict are not skills that are being taught, unless there has already been a problem. We are reactive. Are these skills that we hope young people gain through life experiences and by watching us adults model them. Is hope enough? Let’s be proactive about teaching these skills instead.
I was recently on a radio show discussing Youth and Conflict and I’ve had some great feedback. It would seem that I’m not alone in thinking that if we spent any time training our youth how to communicate, engage in conflict in a positive manner and negotiate that we might just see better results.
You can listen to it here
This isn’t about placing blame. Are the schools failing our kids? Are we as parents not doing enough to help them manage through these tough years? Is anyone really listening to our youth?
This is about finding a way to fill the gap that so obviously exists. Aren’t we all curious how we ended up going from the youth that we were to the responsible adults that we are today? Do we even think about how many lessons that we learned the hard way? Shouldn’t we be thinking of ways to teach our youth based on our experiences?
I know, it looks like all I have are questions. But questions are a great place to start! The BIG question is What do our Youth think would help them navigate conflict better?
We see youth in conflict managed poorly every day…we see bullying, fights, criminal charges, suspensions, withdrawals, mental health issues and sadly suicide. Before you ask, I don’t believe that opening a dialogue about problem solving or managing conflict is going to change all of this. I do however believe that there is an opportunity to change some of this.
- Instead of being so critical of our youth, let’s be supportive of their strengths.
- Instead of managing everything for them, let’s be there to guide them (or catch them) when they try to problem solve on their own.
- Instead of dictating what they will do, when they will do it and how they will do it, let’s ask them for their input.
- Instead of talking at them, let’s try listening to them.
I was asked to talk about this topic because I faciliate a workshop for Youth called RESOLVE – Conflict Preparedness for Youth. It creates dialogue around relationships, respect, power imbalances, and boundaries while helping teach communication skills as well as Conflict management.
I was asked why I thought my approach was effective. My answer is simple. I think any approach is effective! These are not skills that are being taught. These are skills that we hope young people gain through life experiences and by watching us adults model them. Is hope enough?
I think we need to empower the Youth and give them a voice. I’m sure we will be pleasantly surprised by what we hear.
Owner of Families First Mediation