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Conflict resolution for Children

Why is Conflict Resolution Skills Important for Children

Teaching children how to resolve conflict is a life skill that is crucial for their emotional development. Positive conflict resolution strategies can help them to solve problems, and in turn, maintain healthy relationships.

Teaching Children How to Resolve Conflict

Conflict is something in life that is unavoidable. It is a part of life at an early age. For example, a toddler that grabs a toy from their sibling. In this case, it is the start of internal conflict. On the other hand, older children more often have disagreements, arguments, or forms of confrontation.

Not a single person or child can expect everything to go their way all the time. Thus, conflict is always something that might arise. That is why it is critical to teach children to focus on conflict resolution methods from a very early age.

What is Conflict Resolution?

In a sense conflict resolution is a method of managing conflict, in a conflict situation. Where there are two or more parties involved, with disagreements or strong emotions, conflict results in disputes.

To understand conflict management, it is vital to understand conflict. Conflict is a normal part of healthy relationships and life experiences.

Not all conflict has a positive outcome. However, if you manage conflict disputes, conflict can be resolved and there is common ground.

Why is it Important to Teach Conflict Resolution Strategies

 Good conflict-resolution skills are vital for both children and adults. It teaches them strategies in a safe environment, to manage conflict, or avoid conflict rather than fear conflict.

There are however a few good reasons and positive outcomes in conflict management strategies:

  • Conflict resolution skills play a huge role in maintaining a healthy relationship. It helps strengthen relationships and maintain friendships for children.
  • Children who struggle with their own feelings and own emotions, often point fingers at their friends. This is essentially a method of projecting their feelings and emotions onto another person.
  • Children that find it hard to resolve problems in personal relationships, feel hopeless and cannot stay calm during disagreements or disputes.
  • Similarly, a child who is unable to have open communication, or verbalise their feelings, frequently shuts down during conflict.
  • Because conflict is such a normal part of life experiences, you cannot just avoid dealing with it entirely.
  • Children who learn conflict resolution skills also learn mutual respect. Similarly, they form healthy relationships.

The good news is that young children can learn how to manage their own emotions, and how to deal with conflict positively.

Five Conflict Resolution Strategies for Children

There are five strategies that you can use to teach children how to resolve conflict using some core skills. Different individuals often use different skills for effective conflict resolution. However, these five strategies seem to have the most positive outcome.

1. Avoidance Conflict Resolution

There is a difference between avoiding conflict and avoiding dealing with conflict. Avoiding conflict means that you are ignoring that there is a problem between you and the parties involved. In certain situations, avoiding immediate conflict is necessary. 

It allows the other party involved to get to a point where they feel calm and can stay calm during an argument. Avoiding conflict, or resolving conflicts is usually only temporary. Try to sort out problems, by using an effective method to handle conflict.

In situations where there is no clear resolve or positive outcome, avoidance is the best solution.

2. Competitive Conflict Resolution

Competing to resolve conflict is a very uncooperative method. It usually ends up where a competitive party only takes its own needs into account. They want to win at all costs and point fingers all the way. The result is always a win-lose. Unfortunately, this method hardly ever brings satisfactory resolutions. It also does not result in common ground between you and the other party.

3. Accommodative Conflict Resolution

Accommodating the opposite party and taking your feelings for granted results in a lose-win situation. One party will acquiesce, and give the other party exactly what they want. Unfortunately, this is an open line for a child to become bullied, and fear conflict. Sometimes the opposition uses this method as a short-term solution. The opposer tries to resolve conflicts with a more long-term solution, rather than just giving up. It is easy to comply and accommodate when your opinion and own feelings on the matter are not so strong. Thus, in this case, it narrows down to picking your battles wisely.

4. Collaborating to Find a Conflict Resolution

Although like accommodating, it is a compromise situation to find common ground. In this method, both parties involved work together to find a mutually agreeable solution. In essence, it is a win-win situation. Collaborating involves good active listening and open communication between both parties involved. In the end, both parties stay calm and find conflict resolution important to their common goal.

5. Compromising Resolution

Do not confuse it with collaboration. Compromise can result in neither one involved getting their own need met in the dispute. It is essentially a lose-lose result in conflict management. This method is ideal if you want to manage conflict quickly. However, it typically ends in the problem staying unsolved and becoming much bigger in the end.

Teaching Children Conflict Resolution Skills

There are four core skills to teach children to use in a conflict situation. These good conflict-resolution skills will equip them to deal with present and past conflicts in a healthy, positive way.

Stoplight Resolving Conflict Solution

The stoplight resolution is an excellent method. It teaches children to stay calm and evaluate the situation before reacting in conflict management.


The STOP method gives you more tips on easily dealing with a conflict situation.

  • RED

Ask the child to close their eyes, and take three breaths. This helps to ensure they are in a safe environment and must feel calm. Stepping back helps them own their feelings, and subdue anger.


Establish what the conflict is about. What is the child’s dispute? Help them understand their emotions. Clarify what each involved party wants, and what will be the most suitable course of action. Going back to the five conflict resolution strategies, try to implement the most suitable strategy.


Choose the most positive option and use it as a reaction. From here on if there is no solution, just move on. Teach a child to always have respect for another person’s opinions, even if you do not agree with them. If there is no resolution, stepping back is usually the best course of action.

Sympathise or Empathise

One of the most natural life experiences for children is to feel overwhelmed by their own emotions, and feelings. Much of this shows in their body language, as nonverbal communication, during an argument. Children like to point fingers and use more intense body language, or facial expressions than adults.

However, these strong emotions can quickly get out of hand. This is where empathy or sympathy comes in handy. Showing a child empathy or sympathy when they are distraught, helps them to empathise with others, and creates mutual respect.

So, when your child comes to you venting about school, or an issue with a friend, have sympathy. Use active listening, and get on eye level with the child. Use calming open communication methods to understand their issues. Similarly, sympathise with their feelings, and show understanding for these strong emotions.

Talk About Your Feelings

Empathising is a good step in the five strategies for conflict resolution to build a foundation on. However, empathy will not solve the problem but rather help when addressing conflict.

Children need to practise active listening and open communication to express their feelings. Children usually tend to react to disputes very fast and in frustration or anger. For them, every situation is black or white, and blaming is usually the only resolution.

In this case, it is vital to teach a child how to talk to express their feelings, addressing conflict while they stay calm.  Teach them to use their words to express their feelings, when they feel hurt. Also offering a positive solution is vital. A good example is when your child is being left out of a group they could say. “I feel lonely when I cannot play with you, could I please join you next time”.

This is a much better communication method than only expressing anger, hurt, or blame.

Solving of Problems

Telling a child exactly what to do to solve a problem might seem the easiest and best way. However, as a parent or caregiver, you will not always be there. Children need to learn how to find solutions to their problems, and to resolve conflict on their own.  An easy method to practise solving problems is to help your child recognise the story from the views of both parties.

Ask them exactly what happened according to them, and how they felt about it. Now ask them if their friend or opposing party should tell the story, what would they say? Now you can explain the bigger picture to them from both perspectives. Allow them to brainstorm the problem and find the best solution.

Similarly, as a parent when you have a conflict with your child, you can try the same. Tell your child how you feel and what your opinion is. Then allow them to voice their feelings and opinions. Using this method, you will be able to easily guide them to the best solution. Practice brainstorming solutions.

Tips on What Not to Do

Just as there are strategies and skills to resolve conflict, there are tips to avoid managing conflict. Effective conflict resolution often means avoiding conflict aggressors such as these: include: 

  • Never resort to name-calling or pointing fingers.
  • A child must never use physical violence, and report any physical violence towards them.
  • Always try not to interrupt when someone else is speaking.
  • Try not to insult someone, or their intelligence by being dishonest. 

How do You Teach Conflict Resolution Skills?

Understanding the core skills and strategies to use when managing conflict, how do you implement them?

Did you know there are a few activities you can use to teach conflict resolution? You can teach your child in a safe environment, at home how to effectively deal with conflict situations.

Activities to Improve Conflict Resolution Skills

1. Board Games

Board games have rules and proven strategies. Board games are an effective way of practising resolving conflict methods. They also effectively teach you to control your emotions and solve problems.

2. Arts and Crafts

Creating something is relaxing and can involve working through something. Similarly, art can help children to express their emotions.

3. Putting on Plays

Allow your child to put on a play about their conflict experiences. They can write their own story, and act it out. They will have to involve all the parties in the dispute and collaborate on how they resolve a problem.

Last Thoughts

Children will experience so many ups and downs with friendships and relationships as part of their life experiences. Conflict is an unavoidable situation, but not one that has no remedy. Teach your children conflict resolution strategies and skills from a young age. This can help them manage conflict effectively. Children who do not fear conflict, but rather embrace and solve it positively, can build healthy relationships. They also maintain mutual respect with others.

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