How Kids Can Solve Their Conflicts With Others

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.



Our emotions—our feelings–are what make us human.  Something very important to understand is that feelings are neither right nor wrong.  Also, feelings are personal, yet everyone experiences similar kinds of feelings. So, while we are unique and distinct in how we experience our own feelings, we also share similarities with others. And this is important to understand: we are so wonderfully alive and responsive to what’s going on in our lives that we can have several different feelings in a day.

Beginning at a very young age, children experience emotions.  Kids can feel sad, happy, angry and fearful.  It’s not unusual for children to not always understand their emotions or to know how to express them.  Typically, it’s around age six when we expect kids to be developing “emotional regulation.”                                            Learning how to talk about feelings—learning a “feelings vocabulary”—is something that caring adults can teach kids.  Once youngsters can put a name on what they are feeling, they are better to communicate.  They can tell others what’s troubling them.  As adults, we know how relieved we feel when we can share something and it’s the same for kids.

Resilient Children shows adults how to help kids accept and express their emotions.  Additionally, learning how to manage disturbing or harsh emotions is an additional skill learned through role-playing and behavioral rehearsal.


Making new friends can be a daunting challenge for children.  Kids who are new to a school or neighborhood are even more challenged and may fear not being able to make any friends or wind up being a loner. With your support, your child can learn ways of initiating friendships and keeping them.

Resilient Children gives the tools to adults to do exactly that! This book is a hands-on resource for parents, educators—all adults who care about inspiring kids to thrive and succeed.

Resilient Children provides specific learning activities that caring adults can use to teach specific friendship-making behaviors to kids. These games are appropriate from kindergarten through elementary school age children. The many learning activities become a tool box of skills that your child needs to make and keep friendships.

The message that Resilient Children conveys to kids is that being a good friend helps two people feel good—yourself and your friend. Underlying this message is the reality that in friendships, kids will grow confident and secure.   We adults know how valuable our friendships are, and children begin to discover this truism early in their lives.



Resisting Bullying

Bullying is one of the biggest issues in education today.  Thousands of children are bullied every day in and out of school—from kindergarten through high school.  It is estimated that 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because they are afraid of being the target of bullying, and one out of every 10 students who drops out of school does so directly because of bullying.

No child in America should be afraid to go to school. A child told us that “bullying does to people what saws do to trees.”  At only age ten she has had to learn this unhappy lesson of life. Imagine the difference that every caring adult in this society could make to change that view.

Resilient Children gives the tools to adults to do that! This book is a hands-on resource for educators, parents—all adults who care about inspiring kids to thrive and succeed.

Kids say that they feel a lot safer in school when they know that the adults will stand up for them.  This is crucial because a major reason that bullying persists is because kids feel adults don’t care.  The bully believes adults won’t bother and the bullied child feels ashamed to speak up believing that adults won’t pay attention.  Unfortunately, this is often the case because many adults believe that kids should solve their own problems and teachers aren’t sure how to intervene because they don’t have a clear procedure to follow.

Resilient Children provides the learning activities and the tool box of skills that your child needs to stand up to bullies.  It shows you how to help your child become resilient.  Specifically, that means managing his or her own behavior, learning positive attitudes and emotions, building positive social interaction, and developing feelings of competency and self-esteem.

When kids are taught social-emotional skills they are more self-confident and they are more content.  They begin building a tool box of abilities. That translates into being able to do better in school and to make and keep friendships. Isn’t that what we want for all kids?

The response to bullying isn’t about getting trained in martial arts.  It’s developing self- respect and self- esteem. That is why the very first skill that Resilient Children teaches is self- awareness which is recognizing and appreciating how each of us is unique and special.

Teaching the Art of Compromise – What’s Worked for Me

Compromise is a skill that most people should have mastered I would imagine by their teen years. You and a girlfriend want to see a movie but need to pick either the chick flick or the adventure movie. Maybe you compromise by offering up the fact that the lead in the adventure movie is extremely good looking, so you both win. This is a silly example but one nevertheless that is relatable in the sense that sometimes we have to make concessions in life for both parties to be happy.

But at what point do we learn this? I would imagine the simple answer is during our childhood. Now as a teacher, I can see the foundation being poured by me and my kids’ parents. Most times my kids get along. They are 7 year old Korean Kindergarteners. They are a delight, but like any room full of eagerness and easily hurt feelings, there is the occasional standoff by the little devils. When I’m in the room it is rather simple to solve the problem, after-all, I am familiar with the art of compromise. However, what happens when I’m not around? What happens when the parents aren’t around? Like Jennifer Luchesi Long said in her article, Teach the Art of Compromise “But what about when there is no adult around, when no mediator serves as the facilitator of dialogue? Do kids respond with closed fists or open handshakes? It depends on how well they learned the art of compromise and internalized its importance.”

So what can you do? I love her list of suggestions which can be found at What jumped out at me was point number 5: Teach Social Skills. I consider my responsibilities as an ESL teacher to be more than just teaching conversational and grammatically correct English to my kids. I feel I have to help shape my kids socially as well. I have found tons of lesson plans on the subject and they really works. Specifically, in RESILIENT Children, the lessons on Conflict Solution obviously are perfect for this subject. For example, the lesson Is It Fair? was a great starting point to help two of my boys in my class understand respect and compromise. Originally I had 3 little boys in my class, my Jason, my Thomas and my Jamie. Each one had their role in the class with Jason being the most well-liked boy by all. Jason had to leave my class for the summer to go to America. This left a void for top-dog in the class. Both Thomas, the funny and adorable one, and Jamie, the savvy and clever one, decided for the first few weeks to jockey for this position; resulting in screaming matches, minor fights and then all-out big fights. Well I just wasn’t going to have that. I needed peace to return to my classroom. And I found that using stories and role playing from the lesson Is It Fair? to be a great introduction to conversation about how to treat each other. In the end Thomas got the top dog spot, but Jamie carved out is own special niche in the class. And actually, all of the children benefited because we got to practice reading other stories about conflict which helped improve both their reading and social skills.

I think at the end of the day, reinforcing social skills specific to conflict solution can open up into so much more, especially with these lessons. If you want more updates on the Wonderful World of Ms. Amber’s classroom, feel free to email me at And believe me there’s more because my Jason has returned and now the games begin again. ( =

Is Your Child Afraid To Go To School?


Pam Farkas, LCSW

Bullying is a severe problem today. Thousands of children are bullied every day in and out of school—from kindergarten through high school. In fact, it is estimated that 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because they are afraid of being the target by bullying. Phoebe Prince, who killed herself, January 14, 2010, after being relentlessly bullied, is the latest tragic symbol of bullying victimization.

How has bullying become so horrible and mean? What causes bullies to behave the way they do? Bullies are often looking for attention and to feel important and may think that bullying is a way to gain popularity. They think by pushing others around they will get a big reaction and feel more powerful. Often bullies are insecure and may have even been bullied themselves. In other cases, some children come from families that don’t realize that bullying is occurring. Children learn that behaviors like threatening, yelling, shouting and shoving is “normal” behavior.

We, as parents, educators and adults who care for children, must realize the importance and value of positive child development as a way to offset the negative behaviors that our children learn. We need to give children the knowledge and the skills to be successful in confronting life’s challenging demands. We need to give our children the “protective factors” to counter bullies. Don’t underestimate what powerful personal social-emotional skills we can instill in our children.

Resilient Children provides the learning activities and skills that your child needs to stand up to bullies. It shows you how to help your child become resilient, learn to control his or her own behavior, learn positive attitudes and emotions, learn positive social interaction, and develop feelings of competency. We can teach children to feel good about themselves and to meet their responsibility to their family, friends and the community. We want to create strong, confident children who will grow up to be independent adults who will be able to navigate positively through life.

Developing Resiliency Through the Power of Story

Listening to life stories of adults helps children build resiliency and self esteem. It allows them to envision new possibilities, to try again, to hope again, to believe in themselves again.

Your personal stories can help build resiliency in a child. Your stories of personal courage, perseverance and triumph feed the imagination of the young and the vulnerable. Your story can guide youngsters through peril or help them face dangers. Your heroic tales can inspire kids who are frightened or threatened.

Think about all you can talk about— turning points, special moments, triumphs, recovering from an accident or sickness, meeting an unforgettable character, success, friendship, kindnesses, people you’ve admired, a lesson learned.

Your vivid personal stories teach: how you stood up to a bully, found a way around danger, got through tough times, overcame a disappointment, kept your wits in a dangerous situation, created a new way out of an old place, rescued a friendship, braved a storm or survived the loss of a loved one.

You just may discover that “Once upon a time” can be the most profound words you will ever use to help a child succeed and thrive.

So, what’s your story?