How to Teach Children Conflict Resolution Skills

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Conflict resolution skills can be significantly important to a child's well-being and self-confidence. These conflict resolution skills are not something one is born with. We must teach our children how to resolve their differences with others so their life will be fulfilling and harmonious. The easiest way to teach these social skills begins when your child is very young. Guide your child through resolution with another child; this modeling will speak louder than any words ever will.

1 Identify that your child

Identify that your child is experiencing a conflict. When you hear voices start to rise, come in calmly and say something like, "I hear that there is a problem with X. Why don't we figure out what we can do about X?" It can be difficult for a child to see through the argument to the root of the issue. By identifying that there is a problem, you allow your child to take a step back and calm down.

2 Come down to your child's level

Come down to your child's level. Speaking from above will only worsen the problem. Sit with the children, kneel, or sit in a low chair. Your posture tells your child that everyone here is an equal part in solving the conflict. When you stand from above, you take the power from the child and transfer it to yourself.

3 Have the children

Have the children take turns recounting their conflict. Start with telling them that each will get a turn and that interrupting is not allowed. As part of this step, ask the children how they each are feeling about the situation.

4 Repeat the children

Repeat what the children have told you in your own words so that they know you understand the situation and their individual feelings.

5 Ask for ideas about compromise

Ask for ideas about compromise. Let each child give her own answer for how she would like to see the conflict solved.

6 Suspend your own opinion

Suspend your own opinion. Do not tell the children how to resolve the conflict; this would not teach them anything. Children will naturally discard ideas that do not seem fair if they are given time to think and talk them through.

7 Recount the conflict

Recount the conflict and the solution that the children come up with. When a decision is reached, recap the conflict and how the solution will fix the issue. This will help solidify the lessons that the children have learned since they can clearly see how they have moved from conflict to resolution. It will help the situation make sense.

8 Take action

Take action. Let the children put their solution into motion. Stay with them to smooth out any bumps in the same third-party manner that you have maintained.

  • Do not expect overnight success, but instead look at conflict resolution skills as a long-term commitment.
  • Resist taking over and doling out your own solution.
  • Have the children look each other in the eye when saying how the conflict is making them feel. If your child uses a statement such as, "you make me feel...," gently rephrase this into an "I" statement. "I feel....when you..."

Jessica Felix graduated from Western Washington University with a major in Education. Felix has been writing for six years and teaches child development classes to professionals and parents. She is also a certified parenting educator offering coaching and classes to families with young children.