Focus on the Family

Teaching Children to Be Peacemakers

Here are 12 principles you can teach your children to help them resolve conflicts among themselves or with their friends.

by Ken Sande

You can teach your children how to resolve conflicts among themselves or with their friends and other people they know. Imagine how much better life could be for you and them.

Here are 12 key principles that young peacemakers need to learn:

1. Conflict is a slippery slope. Some children try to escape from a conflict, while others try to solve it by going on the attack. Few naturally try to work it out.

Escape Responses: These responses are used to get away from a conflict instead of trying to resolve it. They delay healing.

Attack Responses: These are wrong attempts to win a fight rather than resolve it. They damage a relationship further rather than repairing it.

Work-It-Out Responses: These are the only good ways to respond to a conflict.

2. Conflict starts in the heart. The choices we make to get our own way are deliberate. We decide whether to be obedient or disobedient, wise or foolish, caring or unloving.

3. Choices have consequences. For good or bad, the choices we make will affect us and others. Conflict is often the consequence of a choice we have made.

4. Wise-way choices are better than my-way choices. Selfishness is not smart and will not lead to happiness. The wise way is to obey authority, make right choices, seek godly advice and respect others.

5. The blame game makes conflict worse. It doesn't work to point the finger at someone else, cover up one's own bad choices or make excuses.

6. Conflict is an opportunity. By handling it right we get a chance to glorify God, serve others and become better people.

Conflict is not necessarily bad or destructive. Even when conflict is caused by wrong-doing and causes a great deal of stress, it can lead to good. You can use conflict to:

These concepts are totally overlooked in most conflicts because people naturally focus on escaping from the situation or overcoming their opponent

Therefore, it is wise to step back from a conflict and ask yourself whether you are doing all you can to take advantage of these special opportunities.

7. The "Five A's" can resolve conflict. These simple steps will almost always lead to peace.

Children, like adults, can learn to confess their wrongs in a way that demonstrates they are taking full responsibility for their part in a conflict.

8. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. By forgiving someone, we are making four promises.

False Ideas about Forgiveness

Four Promises of Forgiveness

9. It is never too late to start doing what's right. You can always stop doing wrong, then think about a better way and plan how to pursue it.

10. Think before you speak. Or before you act. Or before you confront someone.

11. Respectful communication is more likely to be heard. This includes the words we speak, our tone of voice and our body language (making eye contact and avoiding bad gestures, facial expressions or posture).

12. A respectful appeal can prevent conflict. Learn how to make one.