4 Steps to Resolve Any Conflict

We often ask parents to role model conflict as an opportunity for change. Kim O’Malley, Girls Leadership’s Senior Educator for Colorado, shares how she used 4 Steps for Healthy Conflict, a powerful tool from our Parent & Daughter Workshop curriculum to resolve a conflict in her home.

Dear Dishwasher,

We have to talk. Your relentless need for my constant attention is really impacting our relationship. I realize that when our relationship first began, I needed you more than you needed me. Now that the kids have entered the picture, I don’t have the time or the energy to give you the attention you need and I realize it’s been taking a toll on both of us. I’m worried that if we don’t confront this soon we may never feel that same about each other again so…

It’s time we have a difficult conversation.

1. Affirm the Relationship.

Dishwasher- You are really important to me. I truly appreciate how hard you work, and honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without you.

2. Use an “I” statement.

Yesterday, before dinner when I emptied you for the second time that day and then turned around and saw you needed to be filled again – well, I felt really overwhelmed and resentful.

3. My Contribution.

I realize that I don’t always let you know how much I appreciate what you do and often take you for granted. I often resent you when in actuality you are just doing your job. I would really like to be available when you need me to be and it has taken me a long time to admit that I can’t be the only one in the house that carries the weight of your loading and unloading every day. I’m sorry for not bringing this up earlier.

4. Solve it Together.

I will try and ask others to help load and unload you before I feel resentful and overwhelmed. Can you help me brainstorm strategies to keep you empty more often? Thanks! Oh – and great job on Thanksgiving by the way. You really hung in there. I thought you might quit on us like the garbage disposal did but you stuck with it. Way to go!

Want to hang out later after dinner?


Your friend,


Do you have an example of a conflict you resolved using the 4 Steps for Healthy Conflict? Share in the comments below!

Leave a Reply