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22nd Nov 2021
Jealousy and Bullying

Managing Conflict

16th Sep 2021

The difference between Conflict and Bullying is something we get asked about a lot here at BulliesOut. Many confuse conflict, and managing that conflict, with bullying behaviour and it can be a real source of tension between schools and parents.

The ability to deal with conflict is one that we need to be able to manage as we go through life. It is rare to find a person who has not experienced a falling out or a disagreement with a friend, family member or colleague. But it is in how we manage that conflict, and resolve that conflict, that makes the impact on the relationship a positive or a negative one.

Many relationships find themselves stronger because of a successful resolution of conflict. Many people find themselves stronger and more confident for dealing effectively with a conflict resolution. Therefore, to take the early development of those skills away from our young people can impact them in negative way. Young people need to experience and learn from conflict. They need to develop skills in conflict resolution and use emotional intelligence to negotiate that resolution.

How then can we help our children in doing this?

  1. Sit down with your child and normalise conflict. Explain that it does not mean they are being bullied. It does not mean that their friendship has broken down. It is a normal part of growing up and is a learning experience that everyone will experience at varying times and to varying degrees.
  2. Explain the difference between conflict and bullying behaviour. But it is important that our children understand what conflict looks like, and what bullying behaviour looks like, so that they can seek help if the latter is taking place. It is vitally important they understand what bullying behaviour is so they can tell someone and seek support. We run courses for parents to help them deal with this, so if you would like more support in developing your own knowledge in this area, please look at our courses here.
  3. Explain how important it is to talk it through with the other person. Communication is a vital part in conflict resolution. It is important to think about how we hold that discussion. Where we hold it, when we hold it, and the words and tone we choose to use, will have a big impact upon how it goes, and so it is important to understand that in advance.
  4. Our non-verbal communication will also play a key part, and therefore it is equally important we pay attention to our non-verbal actions too. It is important to emphasise the need to listen as well as to explain how they are feeling. Using active listening skills to understand how the other person is feeling is key to resolving matters of conflict.
  5. It sounds straightforward but it can help to try and ascertain what the source of the conflict is, taking emotion out of it. Understanding what the root cause of the conflict was can allow you to begin to take steps to resolve it.
  6. Look at options for how to resolve it. Perhaps both parties could suggest options before deciding together on one as a suitable way forward?
  7. It is important to know when things are becoming heated and to know when to agree to leave a discussion for another day. Some conflicts can take time to resolve. Allow yourselves that time. Emotion can make things feel very heated and sometimes allowing yourselves time to calm down can help in conflict resolution.

Above all, it is important to understand that in managing this conflict, you are developing key skills that will greatly assist in later life. Whilst when dealing with it, it may feel unpleasant and uncomfortable, try to remember, it will be resolved and finding a way forward together is often more important than insisting it be ‘your’ way forward that is chosen. In managing conflict, we need to work with others not against them.

For more information on the difference between Bullying Behaviour and Conflict please get in touch.


Written by Lucy Howard, BulliesOut Digital Communications Officer

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