Caregivers and parents may use these six steps to teach children how to resolve conflicts.
- Approach calmly, stopping any hurtful actions
Place yourself between the children, on their level; use a calm voice and gentle touch; remain neutral rather than take sides.
- Acknowledge children’s feelings
Say something simple such as “You look really upset”; (if there is a dispute over an object, let children know you need to hold the object).
- Gather information
Ask “What's the problem?” Do not ask “why” questions.
- Restate the problem
“So the problem is...” Use and extend the children’s vocabulary, substituting neutral words for hurtful or judgmental ones (such as “stupid”) if needed.
- Ask for ideas for solutions and choose one together
Encourage children to think of a solution, but offer options if the children are unable to at first.
- Be prepared to give follow up support
Acknowledge children’s accomplishments, e.g., “You solved the problem!” Stay nearby in case anyone is not happy with the solution and the process needs repeating.