Conflict resolution for kids is an important skill to develop.
As an adult I do my best to avoid conflict, and try to teach my children to do the same. Despite our best intentions, conflict is an inevitable part of life, no matter how much we try to avoid it. Conflict resolution skills are vital to healthy social development, and the younger we’re able to instill a solid foundation of those skills in our kids the better off they’ll be.
One of the best ways to instill behaviors in our children is to be the role-model of the behavior we wish to see our children adopt. However, kids may still have some difficulty understanding exactly why we’re doing something and why it’s important.
How to calm kids down?
Conflict resolution for kids can be difficult at first, but, thankfully, by teaching a solid foundation of skills you can help them better understand their emotions and how their actions impact others.
The best starting point in teaching conflict resolution is to get the child to take a moment to detach from the situation and calm down. Only then can they properly figure out exactly what they’re upset about and why they’re upset about it.
A great starting point with conflicting children is to separate them for a bit, such as going for a walk or taking a time-out. You can also try teaching something a bit more reflective, such as taking a series of deep breaths to help slow down and calm the mind. It’s difficult for people to listen to others when they’re angry, and this is especially true for young kids.
Once the children have calmed down we can begin to figure out what’s wrong and how to address it. Speak to each child involved, either as a group or on their own, and listen to their side of the story in an objective way. This isn’t about placing the blame and punishing, but rather addressing where the conflict came and how to move past it.
Take turns having each child use expressive statements such as “I” messages to help convey what they’re feeling and why they feel that way. Ensure that each child has a fair turn to express their perspective and that the other is actively listening while doing so. This allows each child to express their feelings without conflict, and may allow the other child to better understand their perspective.
After each child has calmed down, expressed what they’re upset about and why, we can then begin to bridge the gap in understanding between them. A great starting point is to have each child apologize to the other to help calm any lingering negative feelings. This not only makes each child take responsibility for their own actions, but helps show remorse to the other for the conflict between them.
The goal is to help each child understand where the other was coming from. In most cases each child has an active role in the conflict between them, and by apologizing for their own role and hearing the other child’s perspective they can gain a sense empathy for each other’s feelings.
After the problem has been addressed, each child has taken accountability and apologized for their role in it, we can begin to find solutions to help them move forward. While you may want to come up with your own solutions, we recommend allowing them to come up with and agree to a solution all on their own. It turns out kids learn better problem-solving skills when they solve their own problems.
Have the children come up with a bunch of possible solutions that may help resolve the conflict. Then have each child speak directly and honestly with one another to choose a solution they both agree upon. Supervise to ensure the solution is mutually beneficial for the both of them, and if a child is only presenting solutions that benefit them take a moment to explain to them why they’re not being fair to the other.
The most important part about conflict resolutions is ensuring that the children actually follow through with their solution, which can be often easier said than done. A good way to help ensure they actually act on it is to offer some praise for calming down, talking things out, and brainstorming together. This helps to reinforce the skills you’ve been giving them and applies positive pressure for them to act on their solution.
If a child isn’t living up to their end of the agreement, remind them about what they agreed to do, saying what you mean and acting on it is a valuable life skill to develop. This also helps to instill accountability and responsibility for their actions. If conflict continues to arise between the children, it may be best to seperate them for a bit, whether with different playmates or a time-out.
Conflict resolution for kids can be a difficult challenge to overcome, and kids are going to experience conflict no matter how much we would love for them to avoid it. By giving a solid foundation of skills to draw from you set them up to overcome these hurdles. You help them form deep meaningful friendships over time.
It’s best to give your child ample opportunity to develop their social skills. Regular playdates are a great starting point, and school can certainly offer these opportunities when the time is right.
If you are looking for the best child care provider that can offer ample supervised opportunity for your child to better develop socially, please consider Elite Preschool.