Learning how to handle disagreements autonomously is an essential milestone for children, and via teachable moments, parents and educators may assist their children in developing these abilities.
Conflict resolution is not an intrinsic ability, and it is critical that children learn strategies to resolve conflicts with their peers so that they can do so effectively throughout their childhood and adulthood. To help with this, parents and educators must model conflict resolution strategies so that children may learn from positive examples. Teachable moments, or unexpected opportunities to develop insight and wisdom in youngsters, are excellent occasions to show good dispute resolution.
Help Children Practice Calming Techniques
If a kid brings you a disagreement, or if you perceive a conflict between two children increasing, intervene and have the children walk into a quiet area to address their conflict. After they’ve gone to a calmer place, practice slow, deep breathing with them and have them count to 10 with you. These approaches reduce tension, allowing youngsters to think clearly and listen carefully to their peers’ complaints.
Have the Child Voice their Grievances
Encourage the kids to start a conversation. When conversing, have each youngster face the other and make eye contact. Depending on the children’s degree of experience with conflict resolution, they may begin the dialogue with a “you-statement” or an “I-statement.” An I-statement would be, “I feel sad when you…” or “I feel upset when…” A you-statement would be, “You didn’t…” or “You wouldn’t…” Keep in mind that “I-statements” need more sophisticated social and emotional abilities, thus younger children may be limited to “you-statements.” Encourage both the speaker and the listener to express their emotions in a polite and compassionate manner. Assure both youngsters that the other will have an opportunity to express their thoughts as well.
Instruct the Peer to Listen and Discuss the Problem
The listening peer should actively listen to what the offended youngster is saying. Once the speaker has completed presenting their problem, the listener should try to rephrase what they stated. This stage is crucial because it ensures that everyone knows the difficulties from the perspective of one kid and makes the child feel heard and understood, even if the listening peer does not agree with their interpretation of the disagreement.
Allow both children to express their opinions.
After the first listener has heard the dissatisfied child’s concerns, they can share their point of view and why they chose to behave the way they did. Make sure the youngster utilizes “you-statements” and “I-statements” as needed, and remind them that only polite and caring language will be tolerated.
The listener should next rephrase what their peer said to them and carefully repeat it back to ensure comprehension. This explanation-paraphrase procedure should be repeated until each youngster believes they have spoken what they need to say about the problem.
Brainstorm a Solution with the Children
Work with the children to come up with a solution to their problem based on what they have disclosed about the disagreement. Solutions should not be punitive or retributive in character; rather, they should benefit both parties. This will help youngsters develop negotiating abilities and establish a feeling of fairness in them. Check-in on them as they implement the solution once it has been produced. If the solution does not appear to be working, have them step back and repeat the procedure.
Rose .A. Milani,
Parent Coach and Registered Mental Health Counsellor
Based in Melbourne, Australia