Conflict Resolution

We are almost halfway through basketball season. Three cheers!  I couldn’t be happier. The basketball league which our little girl attends has just 4 teams of 6 to 7 year-old-girls. Since the girls at this age only play half-court, all the games are played at the same time. Every Saturday morning at 8 a.m. Did you know that there are some parents who actually think this is okay? Writing until 2 a.m. is my normal schedule so mornings are an unfamiliar scene for me. Especially mornings before 10 a.m. I arrive every Saturday morning with whatever caffeinated drink I have chosen and watch bleary-eyed as the other parents happily chat with one another. My brother and sister (the most committed aunt and uncle of all time) arrive as well with noise-makers! The combination of cowbells and caffeine usually keep me awake through the game but I spend the rest of the day walking around in a haze. The end of the season is coming! I can see it out there. I can hardly wait.

Another reason for the excitement is the fact that our little team of girls are doing an excellent job and proving to be the winning little girls we knew they were. You would think that this would be a reason for me not to want the season to end. You would be wrong. You see, little girls live in a world of perpetual competition. And, being little girls, they tend to be a little bit uppity about things when they discover that they are better than the others. In doing this, they fall short of the ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’ that I like to see in my little one. Practices have become an exercise in restraint for me. I am not the coach. I can not go out there and insist on appropriate behavior or hand out a few time-outs to a few not-so-sweet little things – one of whom is my granddaughter. I have to admire the coach. He just ignores all the little squabbling and moves on to the game of basketball which usually de-fuses the current argument started because someone made a snide comment about someone not being able to hit the basket which escalated to comments about who was prettier, who had nicer hair, whose shoes were the nicest and who didn’t have a hair band to match their jersey. Eventually all this competition degenerates into name calling and tears. On the trips home, I spend our time together patiently trying to explain tips on conflict resolution to a hyperactive 6-year-old. None of those discussions have been successful in any way.

I realized tonight that my whole approach has been wrong. I can’t teach my granddaughter enough conflict resolution techniques to ever stop the conflict. From now until forever she is a girl and girls will always be competing for something. Who does their make-up best, who accessorizes their clothing best, who has the most desirable boyfriend – these competitions will always be with us. What I really need to do is teach her how to make friends. I’m not saying that girls who are friends won’t be competing with one another. They will but the competition will be less intense. So I am grateful to Gretchen Rubin who wrote an article for Huffpost Healthy Living called Balanced Life – 8 Tips for Making Friends. The tips she gave were directed towards adults but I found a couple of little gems that will be wonderful for every age. Simply stated they are ‘Say nice things about others and smile a lot‘. Love it! What a great plan. Walk in the door with a smile for everyone and say nice things to each of them. Can something that simple work to lower the competitive level? I think it could! I’m going to suggest the little one give it a try at her next practice. I’ll let you know if it works. If so, you can use it for the conflicts in your life as well. And thanks to you Gretchen Rubin for the great ideas.


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2 Responses to “Conflict Resolution”

  1. 1875 20 cent says:

    Good post. Keep it comin’. 🙂

  2. stayer says:

    added to my bookmarks

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