Imagine for a brief moment that your child was threatened or mistreated at school. As they recount the day’s events to you, you can see and hear that they are hurt, scared and emotional. Your blood starts to boil as you silently judge the actions of the other kid, and maybe even their parents. Wanting to keep your child safe, you tell them not to play with this other kid anymore. Avoid them. Don’t engage with them. Find other friends to play with. As your child walks away, it feels like all is well in the world again.
As parents, we want nothing more than to keep our kids safe. When things become hard, challenging or emotional it is not uncommon for parents to tell their kids to just cut that part out. Something that we regularly do as adults, too.
The problem is avoiding emotions or conflict resolution doesn’t solve the problem
It only makes it worse. Life is full of challenges, emotions and differences of opinion. As parents, it is our job to teach our kids the skills needed to navigate these moments. Not avoid them.
With social media being such a huge part of our lives, experts have declared that we are currently living in isolated bubbles. We surround ourselves with people who think like us and want the same things we do. We crave ‘likes’. It makes us feel safe. Confident. It validates our choices. And, if someone comments or posts something we don’t like or makes us feel uncomfortable, we unfollow.
Teaching our kids to cut out, rather than work through, is a slippery slope. Communication and conflict resolution skills are skills that are essential to our success. They are also skills that are taught and require practice. Learning to cut out experiences or exchanges that are challenging, uncomfortable and/or emotional negates any opportunity to learn and practice how to navigate such situations. By avoiding these situations, we never develop the skills needed, making it easier to continue to cut out and not work through.
Not all conflict is bad
The key is how we manage it and teach our kids to do the same. The more opportunities our kids have to practice and learn, the more successful they will be.
The next time you find yourself, or your child, in an emotional, challenging or uncomfortable situation – rather than cut out, work through. Encourage your child to talk to the other person, face-to-face, in real time. This engages accountability. Listening to other people’s experiences and perspectives allow you, or your child, to gain an understanding of self and others. We each have differing perspectives in all situations. This doesn’t mean one is right and one is wrong. Rather, each perspective is unique and needs to be understood.
Seeking to understand others allows us to learn and reflect how we contributed to the situation and what we could do differently the next time. Engaging in real life, real-time conversations – no matter how emotional or difficult – allows us to build our soft skills like empathy, compassion, critical thinking. Skills that we rob ourselves, and our children, or when we don’t engage to work through any situation.
As humans, regardless of age, we all crave connection. We can’t connect or understand others when we cut out. Curious conversations allow you to stay connected as you work through, seeking to understand the unique perspectives of others. That’s ultimately what we all want – to be seen, heard and understood.
Co-Founder of The Institute of Curiosity, Co-Author of The Power of Curiosity, Communication Ambassador for Wealthy Woman Warrior™
We specialize in high-quality conversations that build high-quality relationships. That means we help people STOP reacting (to people, emotions, events) and learn to start RESPONDING to engage and inspire others, especially in emotional or high stakes situations.