Teaching Conflict Resolution to Kids: How parents and teachers can model conflict resolution skills and teach children to resolve problems peacefully

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. As children grow up and interact with others, they will inevitably face conflicts and disagreements. Learning constructive conflict resolution skills early on can help kids develop self-regulation, empathy, and problem-solving abilities that will serve them throughout their lives.

Parents and teachers play a vital role in modeling conflict resolution and teaching kids peaceful strategies to work through problems. By guiding children through the process, we can set them up for success in navigating conflict situations independently in the future.

Why Teaching Conflict Resolution Matters

Teaching kids conflict resolution strategies may be one of the most valuable life skills we can impart as parents and teachers. Here’s why it’s so important:

Promotes Emotional Intelligence

Conflict resolution requires the ability to identify, understand, and regulate one’s own emotions while also considering the perspective and emotions of others. Mastering these skills builds emotional intelligence that aids kids in all areas of life.

Develops Problem-Solving Abilities

Walking kids through the process of finding solutions to interpersonal problems enhances their ability to solve issues independently as they get older. They learn how to apply critical thinking to social dynamics.

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Reduces Aggression

Children taught positive conflict resolution methods tend to be less physically and relationally aggressive over time. They learn to use their words rather than lash out physically.

Improves Relationships

The ability to work through disagreements constructively strengthens relationships between children as well as between children and adults. It builds trust and goodwill.

Creates a Peaceful Environment

When kids can resolve issues among themselves, it leads to a more positive and peaceful classroom or home. Adults don’t have to intervene as frequently to settle disputes.

Teaching conflict resolution skills early on can make a tremendous difference in how kids handle challenges throughout life. The key is giving them strategies they can use independently.

How to Teach Conflict Resolution Skills to Children

Teaching conflict resolution to kids requires modeling the process, actively guiding them through it, and giving ample opportunities to practice. Here are some steps parents and teachers can take:

1. Set the Foundation

Before conflict arises, establish expectations for respectful discussion and problem solving. Teach kids to use “I feel” statements rather than blaming others. Highlight the importance of listening and seeing other perspectives.

2. Model Conflict Resolution

Let kids observe how you remain calm and controlled when disagreements arise. Verbally walk through the steps such as identifying the problem, listening to the other side, brainstorming solutions, and compromising.

3. Coach Kids Through Conflicts

When kids come to you with a disagreement, avoid immediately solving the problem. Instead, guide them through the process step-by-step. Ask questions to prompt critical thinking.

4. Role Play Scenarios

Practice potential conflict situations through role play. Trade off roles so kids can experience both perspectives. Help them brainstorm constructive solutions.

5. Teach Compromise and Negotiation

Finding a win-win resolution often involves compromise. Kids need to learn negotiation tactics like I’ll do x if you do y. Have them practice making compromises in role-playing.

6. Praise Positive Resolution

Notice and praise kids when you observe them working through a disagreement in a constructive manner. This positive reinforcement builds conflict resolution skills.

7. Reflect on Resolutions

After disputes, briefly discuss what worked and what kids can improve next time. Reflection cements learning and helps improve their process.

With patience and consistency, parents and teachers can teach even young children to manage interpersonal problems independently. The key is providing ample guidance, modeling, and practice.

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Essential Conflict Resolution Skills to Teach Children

Learning to resolve differences constructively requires developing specific skills. When teaching kids how to manage conflict, focus on building the following abilities:


Kids need to learn techniques like taking deep breaths, counting, or walking away to calm down before discussing solutions. Strong emotions make it hard to think clearly.

Active Listening

Being able to listen to the other person’s perspective, without interrupting, is crucial. Kids should practice reflective listening by paraphrasing what they heard.


Considering how the situation looks from the other person’s standpoint builds empathy. Help kids learn to see conflicts from more than just their own view.

Assertive Communication

Kids need to be able to clearly express their thoughts, feelings, and needs in a respectful manner. Help them avoid aggressive or passive language.


Brainstorming creative solutions, evaluating options, and finding mutually agreeable compromises are key skills. Kids need guidance walking through this process.


Once resolved, kids should learn to forgive and let go of resentment. This allows relationships to heal and makes future resolution easier.

Equipping kids with these fundamental skills empowers them to independently and peacefully work through whatever differences come their way.

Common Conflict Resolution Techniques for Kids

There are many constructive conflict resolution methods we can teach children. Tailor your approach to the child’s age and abilities. Useful techniques include:

Identify the Problem

Teach kids to explain the situation objectively, without assigning blame. Help young children use “I feel” statements like “I feel upset because you took my toy.”

Take a Break

When emotions are running high, a short break can defuse tension so kids can think clearly. Teach techniques like counting to 10 or walking away.

Listen Actively

Model reflective listening and have kids paraphrase. Ask “What did you hear them say?” to reinforce active listening on both sides.

Brainstorm Solutions

Have kids suggest multiple ideas for resolving the dispute, no matter how silly. This creative process often leads to mutually agreeable solutions.


When appropriate, teach kids to find “win-win” solutions where each side gives a little. If one child wants to play football and the other tag, they could agree to play each game for 30 minutes.


Once an agreement is reached, kids should learn to apologize for their role in the conflict. This helps repair trust and relationships.


Remind kids that forgiveness is a choice we make to promote healing. Have them verbally forgive each other after disputes are resolved.

Reflect on Resolution

Ask kids what they learned and how they could manage the conflict even more constructively next time. Help them identify areas for improvement.

The specific approach should be adapted for the child’s age, nature of the conflict, and abilities of those involved. With practice, the process will start to come naturally.

Teaching Preschoolers Conflict Resolution Skills

The preschool years present ample opportunities to lay the foundation for constructive conflict resolution. Here’s how to teach the basics:

Establish Simple Rules

Create basic rules for how kids should treat others. “Be kind with your words and hands” sets clear expectations.

Acknowledge Feelings

Help young kids label emotions like anger, sadness, or frustration. Provide a feeling vocabulary and model naming your own feelings.

Use Literature

Read books and discuss how characters managed conflict. Ask kids what they would do in that situation.

Model Compromise

Demonstrate meeting in the middle when conflicts arise with preschoolers. For example, allowing a five more minutes of play before clean up.

Praise Positive Resolution

Notice and describe children’s good choices in resolving conflict. “I saw you let Sarah go first when you both wanted the blue scooter. You solved that problem nicely!”

Intervene Only When Necessary

Don’t immediately intervene in minor disputes. Guide from the sidelines, helping kids think through solutions only when truly needed.

The preschool years are an optimal time for adults to model and reinforce constructive conflict resolution strategies. Kids absorb these lifelong skills through experience and repetition.

Teaching Elementary Kids Conflict Resolution Strategies

Between ages 6–12, kids’ abilities to control impulses, communicate effectively, and problem solve become more advanced. Here are some ways to build conflict resolution skills at the elementary level:

Role Play Scenarios

Practice potential conflicts through pretend play. Have kids switch roles so they learn to see different perspectives.

Hold Class Meetings

Bring up issues during class meetings and have kids collaboratively problem solve. The teacher can model constructive discussion.

Assign Reflection Essays

When disputes arise, have kids later write about what happened, how they felt, and what they can improve next time.

Read and Discuss Stories

Read age-appropriate books depicting conflicts between characters. Stop to discuss constructive resolution techniques.

Teach Communication Skills

Directly teach and reinforce assertive communication, active listening, and “I feel” statements. Have kids practice these techniques through role play.

Involve Kids in Rule Setting

Allow kids to help establish classroom rules and consequences. They will be more invested in following expectations they helped create.

Use Behavior Charts

Post behavior charts tracking how well kids listen, communicate respectfully, and resolve conflicts. Review and provide rewards for progress.

Peer Mediation

Train select students in peer mediation. When minor disputes arise, “mediators” can help classmates work through problems constructively.

The elementary years present a prime opportunity to equip kids with the strategies and skills needed to independently resolve interpersonal conflicts. Consistent modeling, guidance, and practice are key.

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