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Solving Problems Using Conflict Resolution Skills
One Family's Story

—by Jean Fisher

This is the story of a busy family, maybe a lot like yours. They are a happy family, but every once in a while they experience moments of conflict.

"Hey everybody, the coach passed out the swim meet schedule today", Shane was out of breath as he ran toward the car, his hair still wet from practice.

"Get in the car. We'll look at your schedule when we get home. Sarah has her dance recital announcement too, we can write everything down on the calendar." Mom smiled at her talented children in the rearview mirror as she drove toward home.

"Here let me see your schedule", Sarah snatched the paper out of Shane's hand in a typical little-sister fashion.

"Oh, no! Mom! Shane has a swim meet on the day of my recital. At the same time!"

"That is a problem, isn't it?"

"Give that back. Let me see." Shane snatched the paper back out of Sarah's hands (in a typical big-brother fashion). "Which day?"
"Here." Sarah pointed.
"Oh no! Mom! That is the match with Victor's team. I'm going to beat him this year, I just know it! You and Dad have to be there to see it! "

"Hmmm, I'm not sure how we are going to solve this problem, but I do know that we have to wait until we get home. A moving vehicle is not a good place for arguing." Mom shot her stern look at the two scowling children. 

Each child wants both parents at his or her special event.  This is an example of conflict over limited resources.

Discuss Feelings
Back home, Dad joined Mom and the kids for a serious discussion. "First of all, Mom and I want you to know that we understand how upset you both of you are. Of course, you want your parents to experience your moments of glory with you. But, you also need to understand that this is a bad situation for us big folks, too. It would break our hearts to ever have one of you believe that we thought the other's activities were more important than yours."

Listen to the other person's point of view
"But Dad, Shane has 10 swim meets this season. Dance class only holds one or two recitals a year! That should make my event more important."

"I know what you are saying is true, Sarah", said Shane. "But, this is a special meet. Victor has beaten me every year, and at practice, my times have been so great that I just know I will win this year. Your dancing isn't a race or anything. Nobody wins any ribbons or trophies." He used his most reasonable voice and glanced out of the corner of his eye hoping his parents had noticed.

Mom did notice and hid her smile at his veiled attempt at manipulating things in his favor. She then turned a patient face toward Sarah who had sprouted some tears (a not-so-veiled attempt of manipulation). "Yes, Sarah, we know that you are unhappy, but we need clear heads not emotions if we are going to find a solution to this problem."

Solving Problems Using Conflict Resolution Skills - Page 2



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