Resolving Conflicts

The Peaceful Parenting Newsletter
Issue #28

A free e-mail newsletter from Naomi Drew

If there is right in the soul,
there will be beauty in the person,
If there is beauty in the person,
there will be harmony in the home;
If there is harmony in the home,
There will be order in the nation;
If there is order in the nation,
There will be peace in the world.
Lao Tzu

We are either problem describers or solution finders.
Coleman Mc Carthy, Director of the Center for Teaching Peace

Dear Friends,

During this season of holidays and celebrations, tensions can color the way we relate to each other. With tension comes conflict. Make this holiday season a peaceful one in your home by shifting the way you and your children deal with conflicts that may arise.

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, the average American family has a conflict every eight minutes. Conflict may be inevitable, but negative responses to it are not. We each have to power to become solution finders. And when we do this, incidences of conflict decrease and peace in the home increases.

In this issue we will focus on six steps to resolving conflicts that are used in homes and schools around the country. May this be a vehicle for creating more peace in your homes, more peace in your lives, more peace in the world. Remember this holiday season and always, peace really does start with each of us.

Many blessings of health and happiness to you and your families.

Much love,



The Win/Win Guidelines are a tried and tested system to help people of all ages resolve conflicts. The key to success in their application is willingness. Are you willing to give up old patterns in order to have new results? Are your children? Tell your family that it is within their power to create a more peaceful home if each member is willing to do their share in making it happen. Give each other the best holiday gift of all!

Post these guidelines in your home, teach them to your family, and use them in your own life. If your children are learning this system at school, reinforcing it at home will be very powerful. If the school your child attends is not teaching conflict resolution, pass this information on to them. We are living in a culture of violence, and teaching peacemaking needs to become a priority in every school, every home, and every community.

Here are the Win/Win Guidelines, the Rules for Win/Win, and a step-by-step description of how to use them .

The Win/Win Guidelines

1. Take time to cool off.
2. Take turns talking it out using I messages. No put-downs, blaming or name-calling.
3. Each person restates what they heard the other person say.
4. Take responsibility for your role in the problem.
5. Brainstorm solutions together, and choose a solution that satisfies both people, a win/win solution.
6. Affirm, forgive, or thank each other.

Use these rules to make Win/Win work most optimally:

Rules for Win/Win

We each agree to do the following:

1. Tell the truth.
2. Treat each other with respect.
3. Attack the problem, not the person.
4. Wait for our turn to speak. No interrupting.
5. Be willing to compromise.

Step 1: Take time to cool off.

Don’t skip this step. Conflicts cannot be solved in the face of hot emotions. Take a step back, breathe deep, and gain some emotional distance before trying to talk things out. Doing this helps you choose your response rather than just react. The same thing holds true for your children. Have them walk away and cool off before attempting to talk.

Exercise: Brainstorm ten things that make you feel better when you’re hot under the collar. Consider some of the following: breathing deeply while making a calming statement, looking at the sky, clearing your desk or straightening up, splashing cold water on your face, writing in a journal, or taking a quick walk and then coming back to talk about the problem. Some people need physical release, while others need something quiet and cerebral. Determine what works for you, then use it next time you get angry. If you have n’o already, do the same with your children.

Step 2: Take turns talking it out using I messages.

I messages help us express our feelings without attacking or blaming. By starting from I, we take responsibility for the way we perceive the problem instead of placing blame. You messages put people on the defensive and close doors.

A statement like, You are so inconsiderate -- look at this mess you made -- will escalate the conflict. Instead try this: I feel really annoyed because I asked you to clean up your toys, and here they are all over the floor.

Be careful not to undermine your words by including put-downs, guilt-trips, sarcasm, or negative body language. Rid yourself of the anger first. That goes for the other person too. When you work through your conflict remember this: It is us against the problem, not us against each other.

Step 3: Each person restates what they heard the other person say.

When we listen to what the other person says and paraphrase what we heard, we convey that we are open to them, and not just focused on our own agenda. Reflective listening shows that we care enough to hear out the other person, rather than just focus on our point of view. When one person listens, the other often follows suit.

Exercise: The next time you talk to your child, try reflecting back what he says. You can start with the words -- I heard you say, or, It sounds like . . .

Practice doing this in non-conflict situations first. It may feel a little awkward, but the more you do it, the more natural it begins to feel.

Step 4: Take responsibility for your role in the problem.

In the majority of conflicts, both parties have some degree of responsibility for what went wrong. However, most of us tend blame rather than looking at our own role in the problem. When we take responsibility we shift the conflict into an entirely different gear, one where resolution is possible.

Example: You can say, I realize I probably sounded sarcastic when I just said that to you. Now I understand why you reacted the way you did.

Exercise: Think about the last conflict you had. Can you see where you may have been responsible? If an insight reveals itself to you regarding your role in a conflict, consider making amends with the other person. Doing this is especially powerful when we have conflicts with our children. It gives them the courage to take responsibility too.

Step 5: Brainstorm solutions and come up with one that satisfies both people.

The key to resolving conflicts is the willingness to seek compromises. Resolving conflicts is a creative act and there are many solutions to a single problem.

Next time you have a conflict, ask the person you had it with to join you in coming up with a variety of solutions. Then choose one that works for both of you. Teach this to your children and encourage them to generate a range of solutions for their conflicts. Knowing how to do this will help them in every walk of life.

Step 6: Affirm, forgive, or thank.

A handshake, hug, or kind word gives closure to the resolution of conflicts. Forgiveness is the highest form of closure. Just saying thank you at the end of a conflict, or acknowledging the person for working things out sends a message of conciliation and gratitude. We preserve our relationships this way, strengthening our connections and working through problems that arise.

Try introducing this at a neutral time. Do some role plays to get used to the steps. Then try it when you have a conflict, even if you do not use every step. If you have very young children, just do the following steps:

1. Cool off
2. Talk it over using I messages.
3. Come up with solutions.
4. Affirm (say something nice), forgive, or thank.

Good luck and let me know how you do.

Hope and Healing/Peaceful Parenting Events:

December 15, 12:00 -1:00 Creating Peace in a Violent World - workshop and signing, at the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, Route 1 North in South Brunswick. E-mail for more information.

December 17, 6:00, Hope and Healing: Peaceful Parenting in an Uncertain World - talk and signing, and peace party. Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau St., Princeton, NJ . There will be a peace vigil in Princeton at Palmer Square preceding this event at 5:00. Call 609-924-5022 for information.

Jan. 8, 2002. Peaceful Parenting workshop and signing. Cambridge School, Cambridge Rd. South Brunswick, NJ. Call 732-297-2941 for time and details.

Jan. 15 Austin, Texas. Creating Peaceful Classrooms - Teacher Workshop. Lake Travis United Methodist Church. Call 512-266-2250 for details.

Jan. 16- Austin, Texas - Peaceful Parenting workshop and signing, 12:00 - 1:00 PM workshop. Lake Travis United Methodist Church. Call 512-266-2250 for details.

Jan. 16 - Austin, Texas -Creating Peace in Uncertain Times, workshop and signing, 7:00 -. call 512-266-9877 for details.

(Lake Travis United Methodist Church is at 1502 RR 620 North, Austin, Texas 78738 )

Jan. 21 and 28 7:30 - 9:00- Peaceful Parenting (a two-session course, books will be available for signing) Hillsborough Township Municipal Building, Hillsborough, NJ. For details call 908-369-4313 ext. 125

Jan. 23 - Peaceful Parenting Workshops in Ohio (Cleveland area) Cuyahoga Heights. IBM lunchtime workshop, PTA workshop at night. Contact for times and details.

Feb. 4 - 7:30 - 9:00. Peaceful Parenting workshop and signing- Town Center Elementary School, Scudders Mill Road, Plainsboro, NJ . Call 609-580-6500 for details.

Feb. 8 - 10:00 a.m. Creating Peace, Hope, and Healing. Workshop and signing. Saraswati Yoga School, New Hope, Pa. Call 215-862-4520 for details.

Feb. 11 - St Paul, Minnesota. ALERT Peace Educators Conference, Talk and signing. 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Feb. 12- 1:00 - 5:00. Minneapolis, Minnesota Peace Educators Conference. Peacemaking Workshop. E-mail for location and details.

Feb. 13 - 11:00 - 2:30 Talk (books available for signing) The Annual Nobel Peace Prize Festival at Augsburg College (Augsburg College, 2211 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 554540). E-mail for details.

Feb. 13 - 7:00. Book Signing - The Red Balloon Bookstore, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Call 651-224-8320 for details.

Feb. 19 - Highland Park, NJ. Peaceful Parenting workshop and signing sponsored by Highland Park PTO. e-mail for details.

Feb. 23 - 10:30 pm. Creating Peace, Hope, and Healing workshop and signing. Brothers of Israel synagogue, Trenton, New Jersey. Contact for details.

Feb. 27 - Camden County College. 9:45 - Keynote speech to Camden County peer mediators and advisors.

If your organization or school would like to schedule a workshop or speaking engagement, you can reach Naomi at

Naomi Drew is the author of four books, all available through
Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids (Kensington Publishers)
Learning the Skills of Peacemaking (Jalmar Press)
The Peaceful Classroom in Action (Jalmar Press)
Hope and Healing: Peaceful Parenting in an Uncertain World will be released in September of 2002 (Kensington Publishers)

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Copyright 2002, Naomi Drew, All Rights Reserved.
This content may be forwarded in full, with copyright/contact/creation information intact,without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from the author is required.

Love and Peace to All of You.


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