Teaching Children Proper Conflict Management | Celebree School

Learning how to independently resolve conflicts is an important benchmark for children, and through teachable moments parents and educators can help their little ones develop these skills. Here, the educators and childcare specialists at Celebree Learning Centers discuss best practices for helping children develop conflict management and resolution skills.

Conflict management is not an innate skill, and it is important that children practice ways to resolve problems with their peers, so that they are able to effectively do so throughout their childhood and adult life. To facilitate this, parents and educators must demonstrate conflict resolution techniques so that children have positive examples to follow. Teachable moments, or unplanned opportunities to instill insight and wisdom in children, are wonderful chances to demonstrate proper conflict management.

Help Children Practice Calming Techniques

If a child brings a conflict to you, or you notice a conflict escalating between two children, intervene and have the children move into a quiet environment to discuss their conflict. Once they’ve removed themselves to a quieter space, practice slow, deep breathing with them, and ask them to count to ten with you. These techniques help to lower stress levels, allowing children to think clearly and listen carefully to their peer’s grievances.

Have the Child Voice their Grievances

Encourage the children to begin a dialogue. In doing so, have each child face the other and use eye contact when speaking. Depending on the level exposure to conflict resolution the children have, they may begin the conversation using either a “you-statement” or an “I-statement.” An example of an I-statement would be, “I feel sad when you…,” or “I feel frustrated when…,” and an example of a you-statement would be, “You didn’t…” or “You wouldn’t…” Keep in mind that “I-statements” require more advanced social and emotional skills, so younger children may only be able to develop “you-statements.” Encourage the speaker to share their feelings in a kind and caring way, and the listener to do so carefully and actively. Assure both children that the other will also have a chance to talk about their feelings as well.

Instruct the Peer to Listen and Paraphrase the Issue

The peer who is listening should actively focus on what the aggrieved child is saying. Once they have finished explaining their issue, the listener should try to paraphrase what the speaker said. This step is critical, as it ensures that everyone understands the issues from one child’s point of view, and makes the that child feel heard and understood, even if the listening peer does not agree with their interpretation of the conflict.

Allow Both Children to Explain Their Point of View

Once the first listener has heard the aggrieved child’s concerns, they then can discuss their point of view, and why they chose to conduct themselves as they did. Make sure the child uses “you-statements” and “I-statements” where appropriate, and remind them that only kind and caring language will be accepted.

The listener should then paraphrase what their peer said to them, and carefully repeat it back so they are better able to understand. This explanation-paraphrase process should continue until each child feels that they have shared all they need to about the issue.

Brainstorm a Solution with the Children

Depending on what each child has shared regarding the conflict, have them work together to come up with a solution to their problem. Solutions should not be punitive or retributive in nature, instead solutions should provide benefit to both parties. This will help children develop compromising skills, and instill in them a sense of fairness. Once the solution has been developed, check in on them as they implement it. If the solution appears to not be working, have them step aside again and repeat the process.

Celebree Believes in Helping Children Find Autonomy by Teaching Conflict Management Skills

Conflict management skills are one of the pillars of proper communication and social interaction. At Celebree, our experienced and knowledgeable educators encourage proper communication and conflict-resolution techniques in all of our children, which increases their autonomy and improves their social and emotional development. For more information about one of our unique educational programs, contact us today!