Coping With Conflict During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Lockdown

This article comes from the Young Scot website and is brought to you in partnership with the Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution. You can download the original article here

The article was written specifically for teenagers but there are useful ideas in it for all of us who are finding that tensions and tempers can rise when we are all home for such an extended period of time.

When you’re spending more time with the people you stay with to help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) it may mean you get into more arguments or conflicts with those around you. Here’s how to resolve any conflicts that do happen.

What causes conflict?

Conflict usually starts when you disagree with somebody about something, or you don’t like how someone has reacted to something.

Conflicts tend to come from two main causes:

  • misperception, where you believe something to be true without any factual proof. For example, you might believe your sibling didn’t do the dishes because they’re being lazy and wanted you to clean up after them, but you don’t have any proof of this.
  • misinformation, which is fake news meant to deceive you. For example, somebody may text you saying that a friend was gossiping about you behind your back, when in fact this didn’t actually happen and was made up to start some drama.

By understanding what starts conflict, it can help us resolve it!

I’m upset by something someone has said/done. How should I react?

You should think about a few different things about reacting, including:

  • where you are (at home, at the shops, out walking the dog)
  • who is involved (parents/carers, siblings, police officer, a stranger)
  • whether you have all the facts (is this a misperception or have you been given misinformation?)
  • your emotions (are you in a good place to respond?)
  • the consequences… (what happens if you react the way you want to?)

This can be difficult because emotions can rise quickly! But by taking a minute to think through these things, we can react in a more thought out way and not let things escalate or get worse.

What’s a better way to react?

Be calm and be brave. It’s courageous to stand up to conflict and deal with it responsibly.

Be curious, not furious. Find out the facts and make sure you aren’t being misinformed. Don’t be too quick to judge or misperceive something.

It’s also important to acknowledge your part in the conflict too: one person can’t just fight on their own!

By controlling your emotions and communicating calmly you can resolve the conflict in a better way.

For example, you could say something like “I’m not spoiling my life because you want a fight, let me find out what is going on then I will come speak to you about it like an adult.”

It’s difficult to manage my emotions sometimes

Emotions can be powerful! But it can be really useful to know how they work so we know how we can manage them. Head to the Scottish Centre of Conflict Resolution to find out what’s going on in your brain when you feel angry, sad, happy and everything in-between.

Another way you can keep your feelings in check is by figuring out what pushes your emotional buttons. These are things that, when they’re triggered, make you feel irritated, frustrated and angry. This could be things like feeling your personal space is being invaded (your parents or sibling comes into your room without asking or knocking) or you feel like there’s been some sort of injustice (your get told off for something your sibling has done). By knowing what things upset you and why, you can better manage how you react to it.

I feel like I’m struggling to manage them

When you’re feeling overwhelmed and your emotions seem too big to tackle it’s a good idea to talk to someone and ask for help.

It can be scary to ask for help. You might feel like asking for help makes you weak, when in fact the opposite is true! It’s very brave to ask for help and support when you need it – and everybody, even the most powerful people in the world, ask for help every day.

It’s important to ask for help when you start to feel you cannot cope, or feeling overwhelmed, stressed or just curious about what kind of help you would get.

You can ask anyone you trust, what you need to do is think about who they are and how they could support you. Your doctor, social worker, or support worker and other professionals that work with young people and families can help you.

More information

Learn more about managing conflicts over at the Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution website.