Here are 12 key principles that young peacemakers need to learn:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Conflict is an opportunity. By handling it right we get a chance to glorify God, serve others, and become better people.
- The “Five A’s” can resolve conflict. These simple steps will almost always lead to peace.
- Forgiveness is a choice,not a feeling. By forgiving someone, we are making four promises.
- 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.
- Think before you speak. Or before you act. Or before you confront someone.
- 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).
- A respectful appeal can prevent conflict. Learn how to make one.
Matthew 5:9-Romans 12:18-James 4:1-Ephesians 4:29, 32-Proverbs 13:10-Proverbs 21:23-Galatians 6:7-I Corinthians 10:31
Conflict Is a Slippery Slope
There is danger ahead if you slip. The slope is divided into three zones:
The Escape Zone: Deny, Blame Game, and Run Away
Escape Responses—These responses are used to get away from a conflict instead of trying to resolve it. They delay healing.
- Denial—Pretending that a conflict does not exist or refusing to do what we can to work it out
- Blame Game—Blaming others for the problem, pretending we did nothing wrong, covering up what we did, lying
- Run Away—Prolonging the problem by running away from the other person
The Attack Zone: Put Downs, Gossip, Fight
Attack Responses—These are wrong attempts to win a fight rather than resolve it. They damage a relationship further rather than repairing it.
- Put Downs—Attacking others with harsh and cruel words, stirring up anger in others
- Gossip—Talking about others behind their backs
- Fight—Using physical force to get our way
The Work-It-Out Zone: Overlook, Talk-It-Out, and Get Help
Work-It-Out Responses—These are the only good ways to respond to a conflict.
- Overlook an Offense—Dealing with an offense yourself by simply deciding to forgive a wrong
- Talk-It-Out—Going directly to the other person to talk out your disagreements
- Get Help—Asking a parent or teacher to help you decide how to handle the conflict you are involved in
The Five A's Can Resolve Conflict
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.
- Admit what you did wrong. Include both wrong desires and bad choices.
- Apologize for how your choice affected the other person. Express the sorrow you feel.
- Accept the consequences for your wrongdoing without argument or excuses.
- Ask for forgiveness.
- Alter your choice in the future. Think over and plan how you are going to act differently next time.
A Respectful Appeal
Stop—yourself from choosing to say or do something that will cause conflict.
Think—Think about why you want to appeal and about what words to use.
Appeal (Ask)—Using “I” messages and questions, communicate your appeal in a respectful way.
Respond—Be prepared to respond respectfully whether the other person answers yes or no.