Our children are our future. Stop and think about children over the last several decades and how their roles have changed and evolved over the years. How did a child in the 60s or 70s differ from a child in the 80s or 90s? Here we are today, almost 10 years into the new millennium, an era of incredible technology advances, strong competition for achievement and material gain, changes in gender roles and most importantly, changes in family dynamics. Life is continuously changing and this is expected. We are an ever growing, ever changing society. But with such dramatic shifts in social norms and behaviors over the last 30 years or so, can we still expect to raise and teach our children as we were taught when we were young, which was predominately in authoritarian households? this article
Teaching Life Skills
Teaching our children important life skills is essential in assisting them with handling conflicts as children and carrying these skills into their adult years. Up until the past decade or so, most of our focus has been on conflict resolution for adults. However, with the increase of disruptive behaviors by adolescents, increased divorce rate and the communication breakdown between parent and child, practitioners are now looking at assisting children in finding a more productive way to handle conflict. In a recent study, 6th and 7th grade children were examined as to how each gender handled conflict. Girls were found to typically rely on verbal assertion where boys showed more aggressive tendencies. Self-efficacy and self-control were found to be significant predictors of conflict resolution styles. Additionally, it is found that by promoting social competencies in our youth, psychosocial problems such as delinquency and drug abuse is reduced and academic achievement increased. (Vera, et. al. 2004)
In recent years, schools, churches and youth programs are implementing conflict resolution programs such as conflict coaching, conflict management workshops, peace building workshops and mediation programs. Evidence is showing that by providing our youth with the appropriate skills early on, we will be teaching them habits they can take with them for a lifetime. Teaching the appropriate social and conflict management behaviors has become just as essential as teaching our children skills in math, science, social studies and english. We can no longer wait until we are adults to begin to figure out how to manage conflict. Children will deal with conflict from their infancy, so why not begin developing the appropriate skills early on.
In sports and athletic events, we have coaches and these coaches support, implement athletic skills for the game, promote team play, character and team unity. In life, we need coaches on a daily basis to keep us on track, accountable, to promote teamwork, family unity, and teach life skills. Life coaches are just as valuable for guiding our youth, as coaches are in guiding our team sports. Counselors or counseling is implemented to fix something that is wrong, but we need to be looking at behavior from the prospective of facilitating and implementing the appropriate skills in our youth for managing their daily conflicts and social issues.
A valuable tool we have is the internet. The birth of the internet has opened a door to endless resources at a touch of a finger tip. Teenagers are one of the most proficient at using the internet, with 55% of all online teens belonging to some sort of social networking site (Lynch 2007). A good outlet for any teen who is facing an issue and wants to communicate their feelings confidentially is by creating an online avenue for teenagers to post their concerns and receive feedback, without revealing their identities. A good example may be a child being pushed around by a bully. Children do not like to appear “weak” or “afraid” so they do not report or communicate when another is harassing them. By having an outlet to discuss and seek help anonymously keeps the child feeling empowered, and reduces any possibility of retaliation by the bully.
Our youth need outlets for conflict resolution and education and coaching for conflict management. We are seeing a growth and slow acknowledgment of this in society, but we most become more proactive and start focusing on providing and offering programs to our youth now. We are seeing more and more problems in our society and we have to stop looking at just a fix to the problem, but rather we have to look at proactive ways to educate and communicate with our youth. It is like our health. We can go to the doctor and get a prescription to control high blood pressure, or we can implement a healthy diet and exercise in an effort to keep our blood pressure within normal limits and remain healthy.