Often described as mind-bending and delightful, Lewis Carolls Alice In Wonderland heralded a new era in childrens writing, one laced with magic and that all-important ingredient conflict. The protagonist, Alice, experiences both internal and external conflict throughout the storyline. She is unsure of herself and the decisions she must take, and collides with other characters like the Mad Hatter and the mercurial Queen of Hearts who very famously says, off with her head.Unlike fantasy literature though, conflict in real life doesnt go away as easily as waking up from a dream! Children need to understand, process and resolve it effectively explaining it to them takes time, effort and empathy. Heres the interesting thing. A study by the McGill University reported that young girls reported more equity and relationship goals, while young men reported using more revenge and control goals as well as self-interest goals in response to conflict scenarios.Thaenpavai Kannan, who is a UN IOM (United Nations, International Organization for Migration) Officer says, Conflict takes place between two different people, or groups for various reasons. Heres how you can explain it to very young children. One person might like yellow and another person may like green. Each person wants to paint the wall the colour they want. When two people are fixed on their thoughts that can lead to conflict. She adds, What helps conflict is two people being able to talk about why think their colour is better, and maybe choosing to make a compromise so you can paint the wall half-yellow and half-green.Although these are simple and effective ways of explaining conflicts to children, those who are caught in the throes of it themselves might find it harder to process because of the emotional aspect. Riddhi Doshi Patel, Child Psychologist, Parenting Counsellor and TedX speaker from New Delhi says, Ninety percent children and 95 per cent parents don't know how to recognize emotions. However, to resolve conflict, it is important that they understand - where are the feelings coming from? Are they from within? Once you understand the source, half the problems are solved.Talking About Conflict With KidsA study conducted by Meghna Dhillon and Nandita Babu explored Indian childrens perceptions of conflicts with peers in the school setting. Forty children across two age groups (mean ages 6.4 years and 10.5 years respectively) were interviewed. The study reported, Children reported having conflicts most often over instances of physical and verbal provocation. While younger children reported lower frequencies of peer conflict, older girls perceived such events to be a regular occurrence. Moreover, younger children reported conflicts to be short-lived while older children believed that the duration of conflicts depended on their intensity. Sadness was associated with conflicts with friends but not with non-friends. Older boys believed that controlling anger was essential for ending conflicts while girls felt that feelings of sadness and regret motivated them to resolve conflicts. Children reported settling disputes through various strategies like apologising and negotiation.Patel says that sitting with your child and talking about solutions is vital. If the conflict is between the child and a friend or a teacher, help them child understand the source as well as the solutions. Whenever conflict arises, teach them to respect each other's perspective. Usually, the trigger lies somewhere else. Something that has happened earlier is the trigger any current conflict, so think beyond the present. Ensure that whenever there is a conflict, you tell them not to judge the other person. Just limit it to that conflict. It doesn't mean that the other person is bad or good or hopeless. For instance, if your child is being bullied, the bully usually has other issues or triggers.Patel also advocates the use of I language over you language when parents sort out conflicts with their children. Instead of saying, You're an idiot, say I'm feeling low because I'm affected.Not all conflict is bad. In fact day-to-day conflicts are quite important as an indicator to see how your child is able to function socially. Dealing with conflict is part of the childs growth and learning curve and conflict resolution can be a skill set for the future; it can be either constructive (negotiation) or negative (fighting and aggression), and one should definitely aim for the former! After all, in President Ronald Regans words, Peace is not the ability of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.Gaining A Larger Perspective On ConflictNow how does a child cope, when he or she is faced with external conflict, between communities and nations? An estimated 535 million children nearly one in four live in countries affected by conflict or disaster, according to a recent UNICEF survey. Those who dont are constantly exposed to it in other ways.Patel says, Children watch these occurrences on the television, hear people talking at school, or on their building premises. Naturally, there will be questions about conflict in the childs mind. Theres a sense of insecurity that prevails. When Sri Lanka was announced as bankrupt, the first thought was what if it happens in India? Would my family suffer? Comfort your child if they question you about it. Keep yourself calm and composed. If you show that youre anxious, the child will certainly see the danger and uncertainty as well. Dont escalate fear. Give closure to your discussion. Admit to the situation, focus on positive aspects and answer all questions. Constantly check in on yourself and your childs feelings. Initiate smaller conversations, even after your main conversation is over. Be compassionate and empathetic about the situation, but keep it age appropriate.Lastly, practice what you preach. If you as a parent are in a conflict, either with your partner or someone else, how you manage that conflict also impacts your child. Similarly, harsh parenting behaviours such as anger and violence may also set behavioural examples for the child. Stay calm, focussed on the resolution, and always treat the other party with calmness and respect. It isnt conflict itself that is the problem, it's about how you deal with it! Mahatma Gandhis words ring true, An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.