Kids can easily be in conflict with one another—in school or among siblings. Conflict with others can be upsetting. Conflict can occur when kids can’t agree about something. Sometimes they argue or use physical force in their conflict.
The conflict can be over contested toys or space or which program to watch on television. Researchers reveal that conflict between children at play occurs about once every three minutes. So, because conflict is so much a part of life, it’s important to learn how to manage it and resolve it—peacefully, not violently.
Solving problems, conflicts and disagreements with words instead of with
force promotes self-confidence and develops resiliency. Adults can help kids form strong bonds with others by showing them how to use conflict resolving skills.
Typically, kids deal with conflict in the following ways: they avoid it, or they use force, or they give in. These are not healthy options. Research shows that about 60 percent of kids rely on adults to resolve their conflicts.
In researching resiliency, we have identified some of the essential social-emotional skills about solving conflicts peacefully and without hurting one another: listen to each other; together, figure out a solution; show respect for one another; apologize; forgive; take time to cool off; ask an adult for help; know when to walk away. Here is a simple learning activity that you can practice with kids.
A = ASK what the problem is.
B = BRAINSTORM positive solutions.
C = CHOOSE a solution that is fair to all.
D = DO it! Try the solution. Make the effort.
E = EVALUATE whether it worked for you and the other person.
As caring adults, we can fulfill the important role of coach, role model or facilitator for kids in showing them how to resolve conflict. We don’t need to lecture or scold or dictate.
The research is clear: learning positive conflict resolution builds self-confidence, boosts academic performance, and increases self-esteem. Learning how to resolve conflict with siblings and peers helps kids cope with other kinds of stress, strengthening their resiliency into their teen years and adulthood.