Character Chats

How to deal with conflicts with our friends

Every month, we have a word of the month. It’s our social-emotional learning program here at True Balance Karate called True Character.

This month’s word of the month is friendship. Friendship means we care, share, and work together. For our older kids, we define it as a relationship we choose based on mutual interests, care, respect, and trust.

Sometimes there is conflict

Now, are we always going to get along with our friends all the time?

No. Whenever there’s more than one person in the room, there can always be conflict. It’s going to happen.

Should we always give in and only do what somebody else wants? No. Should we always dig in our heels and demand our friends only do what we want to do? No.

So we have to learn how to deal with conflict with our friends. That’s a part of life and that’s a major part of being friends, because let me ask you, do you spend quite a bit of time with your friends? Yeah. You get to a certain age, you’re going to spend more time with your friends than your family.

If you include the time that you play on video games and chat with them now, you probably definitely spend more time with your friends than your family. So of course, conflict is going to happen. It happens all the time.

We have to have a plan to know and understand how to deal with it.

Be willing to compromise

One of the things we can do when there’s conflict is compromise. When we compromise, we try to find something in between both.

For example: One person says, “I want to play basketball.” And the other says, “I want to play soccer.” Let’s compromise. How about we play basketball for 10 minutes and then soccer for 10 minutes?

There’s a compromise, right? We can take turns and share, okay? How about today we play basketball and when we get together tomorrow, we play soccer?

Let’s say there’s only one water gun that’s working and we’re trying to play. Well, we could share the gun instead of just holding it to ourselves.

A good compromise, a good taking turns, is a huge part of being a friend. Not just demanding your way, because remember, in order to have a good friend, we have to be a good friend.

Recognize stop signs

Another thing that we can do to help deal with conflict is look for stop signs. Stop signs are those signs we see on somebody that shows they aren’t happy anymore.

Maybe we’re joking with them, maybe we’re having fun, everybody’s laughing, then all of a sudden your friend is not laughing anymore.

Maybe you’re playing a game of taking the hat off their head or something of that nature, something teasing and everybody is giggling, but all of a sudden they put one of those stop signs out that says, “Uh-uh, I’m not having fun.”

What we want to do is notice that. We can see it sometimes in their eyes. You can see a stop sign in their eyes. It doesn’t look so happy. We can see it in their face. You can see it in their shoulders. You can see it in their body language.

Sometimes you can just hear it: “Stop, I’m not having fun.” Sometimes they just get quiet and withdrawn and they’re just not laughing.

Part of being a good friend is recognizing those stop signs. We like to try to do something about it before your friend gets so frustrated that they wind up yelling at you and saying something they wish they hadn’t had said.

Show empathy

Another big aspect of friendship is empathy.

Empathy is when we show that we care about somebody else – – when we show we feel what they feel and understand how they feel.

As part of being friends, we’re sometimes going to mess up with each other. It’s going to happen. You’re going to get mad. You’re going to say something that you didn’t mean to.

Let’s say, for example, your friend’s favorite sport is soccer and you really don’t like soccer because you love karate. And you happen to accidentally say, “I don’t know why anybody would play soccer. I think that’s silly.” Right? Uh-oh, now I just upset them.

Let’s show a little empathy. If your friend said to you, “I don’t know why anybody would do karate. I think that’s silly,” that would hurt your feelings a little bit. So we think about that, we show our empathy, and we apologize to our friends. “You know what? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say that. I know you really love soccer and I think it’s great that you love soccer too and I love that you do it.”

So to review, a big part of being a good friend involves compromise, taking turns, watching for those stop signals, knowing when our friend isn’t having fun anymore, and then showing empathy and apologizing when we make those mistakes.

Remember, when you apologize, you’ve got to say what you did, you’ve got to say you’re sorry, and then you’ve got to try to make it up. Every apology has to have those three things. I’m sorry, I did this, here’s how I’m going to make it up. Then an apology can be real.

That’s our word of the month.

Thanks and we will see everybody out on the mat.
– Master Helsdon