When Your Student Has a Conflict
A roommate conflict, a struggle between two friends, a misunderstanding with a professoryour student is bound to get wrapped up in conflict at some point during her collegiate career. This can be difficult to hear about as that student's parent or family member. Yet, it's all a natural, even healthy part of the developmental process.
When handled well, conflict can be a learning tool and an opportunity for growth. So, rather than shielding your student from conflict, determine what you can do when it inevitably occurs.
Don't jump right in. At the first sign of conflict, try not to rush to the rescue, no matter how strong the urge. A student who can face conflict and figure it out on her own will be stronger for it. You can listen and provide guidance without solving the problem for her.
Provide support. A student in the midst of conflict will likely be angry, flustered, anxious or a combination of the three. Offer support when he talks about what's going on. This can help him feel more confident as he works to resolve the conflict. It always feels better to know that someone is rooting you on!
Urge your student to seek help. If a conflict appears violent or out-of-control, encourage your student to seek assistance from campus support staff immediately. This can include their Resident Assistant, their hall director, a public safety officer, someone from counseling, a coach, an advisorthe list is long of folks willing to help. These people are there to talk through non-violent conflict, too, and offer on campus support as your student works to resolve her issues with someone else.
Provide perspective. Sometimes students need someone to play devil's advocate so they can see all sides to an issue. Instead of immediately rushing to take your student's "side," offer a dose of perspective. "Have you thought about?" can go a long way to helping them understand and, ultimately, solve conflict.
Applaud your student's self-responsibility. Let your student know that you're proud of how he has chosen to work through the conflict. He's growing by taking responsibility for his actionsand his life. And your affirmation helps him know that, when faced with the next conflict, he'll be able to work it through.
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