Childhood is a vital stage where it is common for conflicts to arise between peers, whether between siblings, cousins, classmates, friends, etc. But … How to resolve a conflict between children?
Sometimes, as parents or professionals, we can feel a little lost or overwhelmed by this type of situation. How do you help them resolve their conflict by learning from this exercise? In this article, we provide you with some September guidelines for dealing with this type of situation.
Conflicts in childhood
It is quite normal for children to have conflicts with each other during this vital stage of childhood.. Conflicts, arguments or arguments are common at these ages and are also necessary for the child’s personality and self-determination to develop gradually.
The fact that everyone has their own wants, needs and ideas makes this type of situation likely. Beyond them, the important thing will be that they themselves (with the support of an adult, if necessary) learn to manage, tolerate and manage such solutions.
They should understand that many disputes arise from diversity of opinions and desires, and that the importance of addressing positions, listening and being empathetic are key elements in resolving such conflicts.
Through conflict, children can learn new ways of interacting, knowing and knowing each other., To listen, to show empathy, to open their minds … Each conflict will be an opportunity for them to grow and evolve.
Moreover, these types of situations open the door for us to work with them on different types of values related to understanding, education and socialization. On the other hand, they allow us to work, in turn, on conduct disorders, mental rigidity, assertiveness, difficulties in expressing desires and needs, etc. However, in order to be able to work on all these aspects, it is important that we first learn how to resolve a conflict between children.
How to help resolve conflict between children
How to resolve a conflict between children? Here we will see several guidelines for doing so.
These are psychoeducational strategies, techniques and tools that adults can apply to promote this conflict resolution, but which can ultimately integrate children and apply independently in their daily lives. once they have been taught and been able to put it into practice.
In other words, here the figure of the adult will be more of a model / mentor and an accompaniment, but the work at the end and in the head will have to be done by the children. Of course, depending on their age (and level of maturity) we can adapt these guidelines to one methodology or another.
1. Identify the problem
What happened? It is important that they can themselves verbalize what happened and agree on the version of events.
If that is not possible, at least let everyone explain what they think happened, how they felt, etc. Identifying the underlying problem is the first key to resolving conflict between children.
2. Give them a space to express themselves
In line with the above, another key idea on how to resolve conflict between children is to provide a space for emotional expression. In other words, we have to give them enough space to express what they felt at the time of the conflict and what they are feeling at that time.
How did the other person make you feel? Do you think he did well? And he himself, did he do well? Here it will also be important that the other child listens to it. (Let them listen to each other without interruption).
3. Encourage mutual understanding
It will be important that in addition to listening to each other, children can practice empathy and come to understand each other. If a priori they cannot be understood, at least they try.
for that the adult can intervene by explaining why each of them acted in this way or another. If there is no absolute understanding of the other’s behavior, at least there is respect between the two.
4. Look for common solutions
Another key idea on how to resolve conflict between children is to help them find common solutions. In other words, everyone can provide possible solutions to the conflict, however it would also be interesting for them to reach a common solution (For example through brainstorming).
Here, the adult can also intervene and accompany. This will also be the right time to “iron out” the question (if it was not a serious conflict) and to reconcile positions, put things into perspective, and so on.
6. Teach them to deal with emotions
Emotional education is a key factor that will allow us to help our children (and our students, families, patients, etc.) in their emotional management. Emotions and especially intense emotions (such as anger, rage …) can lead us to commit impulsive, unsuccessful actions or which cause harm to others.
that’s why we must practice by example and show alternative ways of acting (Avoid sticking, screaming, self-injuring …). Alternative behaviors to this can be: think before you speak or yell and connect, speak calmly, breathe before acting, put yourself in the other person’s shoes, stay calm, etc.
7. Encourage negotiation
Another key point that will allow us to work on how to resolve conflict between children is to encourage negotiation between the two. It would be a point similar to finding common solutions, but not the same.
here it’s about encouraging a kind of “treatment” that includes an understanding of what happened and a pattern of action from now on.: For example, take turns watching TV, not disturbing the other person when they are calm, listening to them before speaking, etc.
In that sense, we need to convey to them the importance of being flexible and open with each other, and how good they can feel when they come to an agreement that they will then have to stick to.
8. Apologize if necessary
It’s great that children can make agreements, negotiate, listen to each other … But sometimes, when one of them has done badly (or more than one), it is important that you can apologize and be aware of the seriousness and / or consequences of your actions.
This is why we must convey the importance of forgiveness and repentance, and that they can verbalize this forgiveness. The aim is for them to express it sincerely, not “because we are forcing them.” “To err is human, but to correct is wise.”
9. Monitor the situation
The situation may have been a one-time conflict or it may also be a recurring conflict between the children themselves. It is important to detect such dynamics in case they exist and act accordingly.
This way, Situation monitoring will become another key factor on how to resolve conflict between children, In this case, focused on the prevention of possible conflicts or discussions.
We can do this in different ways (depending on whether we act as teachers, educators, therapists, parents …), but the important thing will be to observe and take note of the relationship between these people.
- Alzate, R. (2005). Coexistence programs in the educational field: comprehensive approach to conflict transformation and school mediation. Mediation, a plural vision: 1-18.
- Cohen, S. and Coronel, C. (2009). Contributions of social skills theory to the understanding of violent behavior in children and adolescents. I International Congress of Research and Professional Practice in Psychology. XVI Research Conference Fifth Meeting of MERCOSUR Psychological Researchers. Faculty of Psychology – University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires.
- Sampascual, G. (2007). Educational psychology. 2 volumes. A D. Madrid.