HOME  |   VIEW CART  |   login  |   search  go
Follow Us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Watch us on Teacher Tube   800.587.5639
Curriculum > Preschool > Conflict Resolution

Conflict in Early Childhood Programs

In all early childhood programs, children have conflicts over space, materials, and friendships. Learning how to find solutions that work for everyone is an important learning experience for young children. Given that adults are not always effective at social problem solving, it is no wonder that this area poses a substantial challenge for young children. It is also a major concern among practitioners, many of whom have not been trained to deal with this daily occurrence.

When young children get into conflicts with others, they do not aim to be mean or hurtful. They are simply goal oriented. For example, they may want to play with a toy or sit next to the teacher while she reads a story. Their actions are focused on getting what they want without regard for the effect of their behavior on others. Children may also be imitating aggressive behavior they see elsewhere (at home or in the media) without having learned that violence or verbal abuse is not an acceptable way of dealing with social problems in the classroom (or elsewhere).

Refer to the following strategies to learn how you can help young children resolve disputes.

Curriculum Strategies That Set the Stage for Problem Solving

1. Provide a consistent, predictable routine

2. Encourage children’s language development

  • Be warm and positive in conversations
  • Describe and imitate children’s actions
  • Read books about feelings
  • Talk with children about feelings

3. Play in partnership with children

  • Get down on their level and engage play on their terms
  • Encourage learning about feelings during play
  • Help children resolve problems that arise during play

Six Steps in Resolving Conflicts

1. Approach calmly, stopping any hurtful actions

  • Place yourself between the children, on their level
  • Use a calm voice and gentle touch
  • Remain neutral rather than take sides
  • Set limits if necessary

2. Acknowledge children’s feelings

  • “You look really upset”
  • Let children know you need to hold any object in question
  • Describe their actions

3. Gather information

  • Ask for information from each child and listen carefully

4. Restate the problem

  • “So the problem is…”

5. Ask for ideas for solutions and choose one together

  • “What can we do to solve this problem?”
  • Encourage children to think of a solution
  • Help clarify the details

6. Be prepared to give follow-up support

  • Describe how they solved the problem
  • Give acknowledgment - “You solved the problem!”
  • Stay near the children

Strategies to Use Now to Prevent Bullying Later

1. Engage in problem solving every day and avoid labeling children

2. Recognize all the important skills children are mastering through problem solving, and be patiently persistent

3. Help children learn how to be friends

4. Balance limit-setting interactions by following up with several positive interactions

  • Set limits clearly and positively
  • After limit-setting, engage with the child in three or four positive interactions

5. Be a positive role model

  • Keep your voice calm
  • Use “I” statements when you are upset

6. Be proactive!

  • Read and discuss books about problem solving and feelings
  • Use the message board to talk about problems and solutions
  • Use the word “problem” often
  • Perform puppet shows about problems and feelings

Conflict Resolution Resources

Read about Social-Emotional Learning








Contact Us  |   Site Map  |   customer service  |   map & directions  |   Privacy Policy