Responding to Conflict Amongst Young Children

When solving conflicts with young children you need to consider the following factors:

  • How much time you have.
  • How much the children will learn from this situation.
  • How important the problem seems to be to the children involved.

In deciding what to do, consider the following questions:

  1. Which children are involved? What is the conflict about?
  2. Is it a problem with a clear, immediate solution or is it more complex?
  3. How upset or angry are they?
  4. What do they need from you and each other to work out the problem?
  5. Is there enough time to devote to the problem?
  6. Can the children deal with the problem right away or do they need some time to calm down?
  7. Is everyone in an appropriate place to hold the discussion?
  8. Should the discussion be private or public?
  9. If problems cannot be addressed right away, it is important for children to hear the reason and to be told that the discussion will take place at a specific time (e.g., after snack, when we get back inside).
  10. Is it a difference over resources or a difference in opinions?
  11. Is the problem one that recurs frequently or is it unique to the children involved?

Some discussions are best handled with only the children involved, especially when the conflict affects only them or is related to an immediate situation. For some children, airing a dispute in public may be too difficult. However, some problems, particularly those that involve experiences that are common to most children, provide an opportunity for group problem-solving. Some problems can also be handled privately and then discussed at a later date in more general terms.

More Conflict Resolution Techniques.

Excerpted from Early Childhood Adventures in Peacemaking by William J. Kreidler and Sally Tsubokawa.

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