No family is perfect. At some point, your kids will fight with each other, with you, or with friends.
When a fight or conflict breaks out, you have a great opportunity to teach kids how to resolve conflict as Christians.
As Christians, we turn to Matthew 18:15–17 where Jesus describes how two people should resolve a problem.
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”Matthew 18:15–17
How We Resolve Conflict as Christians
When your child is upset with someone, walk them through these steps for conflict resolution.
1. Cool down and reflect.
When your kid gets upset and is frustrated with someone, encourage them to sit down, calm down, and reflect on the situation. If emotions are involved, it’s hard to solve anything. Let your child’s emotions subside and then handle the problem.
While your kid is taking a moment to collect their thoughts, help them think through the problem: Why are they mad at the other person? Is the other person actually right? Is your child showing God’s love to the other person through their actions?
After a few minutes of quietly thinking about the problem, kids may realize that the fight was silly or not worth getting upset about. But if your kid still feels upset, have them talk it out with the other person.
2. Talk it out.
When your kid is fighting or disagreeing with someone, have them talk to the person one-on-one about the problem. Have your child calmly explain why they are upset and say that the other person hurt their feelings. Encourage your child to ask for forgiveness if they hurt the other person or to ask for an apology if the other person hurt them.
3. Ask an adult for help.
If your kid can’t resolve the problem by talking with the other person, encourage them to ask for an adult’s help, whether that’s you, a teacher, or another trusted adult. Explain to your kids that the adult will listen to both sides of the conflict and help both people express their thoughts. Then, the adult will suggest a solution, such as an apology or a compromise.
By teaching your kids how to resolve problems in this way, you’ll help them learn how to restore relationships and show Christ’s love to others by seeking resolution rather than continuing to fight or hold a grudge.
After the argument has been resolved, talk with your child about Law and Gospel. There are always consequences for the things that we do. That’s the law. We are sinful and deserve punishment. So in arguments and fights when pride or selfishness get in the way, there are going to be consequences.
But there is always forgiveness—and that’s the Gospel.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”Ephesians 4:32
If Christ can love us enough to die for us, we should be able to forgive each other. In solving conflict, remember that this forgiveness is paramount; we are to model Christ in our relationships with one another. Pray together as this process plays out in relationships, broken and mended.