Conflict Resolution Teaching Tips for Children – Teaching children conflict resolution is a great life lesson and establishes behaviors that will be helpful for a lifetime.
At the recent Great Start parenting conference, I met up with Christine A. B. Maier, Ph. D. who spoke about supporting and helping young children in resolving conflicts.
Children can learn from mistakes and are capable of solving problems, but only if our response includes a willingness to regard the mistake as a solvable problem. Problem solving is a logical consequence for kids who have made a mistake. Parents can make the problem solving process fun.
Conflict Resolution Teaching Tips for Children
Conflict Resolution Step 1 – Approach calmly, stopping any hurtful actions or language.
- Place yourself between the children, on their level.
- Use a calm voice and gentle touch.
- Remain neutral rather than take sides.
Conflict Resolution Step 2 – Acknowledge feelings.
- “You look really upset.”
- Avoid getting derailed by children’s strong feelings (keeping calm helps de-escalate the situation).
Conflict Resolution Step 3 – Gather Information
- “What is the problem?” – begin questions with “What” instead of “Why”
- Avoid taking sides or forming opinions.
- Listen neutrally for each child’s perception of the problem.
Conflict Resolution Step 4 – Restate the problem
- Simply restate back what the children have said…”So, the problem is…”
- Resist judgements or quick solutions.
Conflict Resolution Step 5 – Ask for ideas for solutions and choose one together.
- Start off by asking, “What can we do to solve this problem?”
- Encourage children to think of a solution.
- Ask for clarification and specifics. e.g. “How will that work?” “What will each of you do?” etc.
- Successful solutions are usually those that are clear and well understood.
If the children are not agreeing on a solution, you may want to help the process a bit by telling the children you have an idea and asking if they’d like to hear it, give limited choices, tell children you will need to decide the outcome (absolutely the last resort and rarely necessary).
Conflict Resolution Step 6 – Give follow-up support as needed.
- Use simple, affirming statements like “You thought of ideas that would work for all of you.” or “You solved the problem!”
- Stay nearby the children briefly as they re-engage in their activities.
- Remain available to help if there is any confusion about the solution or if unresolved feelings flare up once again.
By supporting child-made solutions, parents encourage children to take the initiative, develop independent problem solving skills, and exercise cause and effect thinking. Parents need to understand that what the solutions turns out to be is not as important as the process of making it. Ultimately, children learn to express feelings constructively and the solutions work best when they are self generated.
Dr. Christine A.B. Maier is the preschool consultant for Oakland Schools. She has been a lecturer and presented at numerous national, state, and local early childhood conferences. Dr. Maier has also served as an educational consultant for the HighScope Educational Research Foundation and worked as demonstration preschool teacher at the HighScope Demonstration preschool classroom.
Conflict Resolution Teaching Tips for Children Source – High Scope Educational Research Foundation