“Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt 7:1), “… be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19) – We have been taught these scriptures and heard sermons about them, but how often do we practice them? We tend to forget these teachings and let our personal emotions take control, especially when conflict arises.

As a youth counselor, I have encountered various conflicts which, when not dealt with properly, have escalated into crises. In these situations, youth counselors have to keep calm, and ensure the safety of both the counselling team and the children.

There are three coping skills which I use and teach the children I work with in managing conflicts.

Deep breathing is one of the most common coping skills. When you practice deep breathing, it slows down your rate of breathing, decreases the heart rate and lessen the muscle tension as you slowly relax. This in turn helps you to respond appropriately rather than reacting towards an unfavourable situation. For example, instead of blasting out angry words, you could talk rationally with the other party. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov 15:1).

Walking away from your trigger is another common coping skill. When you feel stressed up or upset, leave the situation, take a break and come back when you are feeling calmer to face the situation appropriately. “Be angry and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent” (Psa. 4:4).

Indulging in a hobby is another way to cope. Whether it is reading, writing, talking, exercising or listening to music, if you find comfort in it, it will help you get by. You can also pray to God; share your troubles with Him and seek His guidance. Remember that “He cares for you” (1 Pet 5:7). “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your way submit to Him, and He will make your path straight” (Prov 3:5-6).

You can have more than one coping skills, as long it helps regulate your emotions. There are other methods as well which are not mentioned here. Most importantly, do not forget to problem-solve. Talk to the other person involved in the conflict, gain his understanding to mend the relationship.

“… Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph 4:22). “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matt 6:14).

by Leow Huey Shien

Sis. Leow Huey Shien is interested in behaviours. She has a degree in psychology and a major in business management from the Upper Iowa University, USA. She has worked with children with various traumatic experiences.