UACES Facebook 6 Steps to Help Children Manage Conflict
skip to main content
Navigating Life's Journey Blog

Navigating Life's Journey Blog

Helping others navigate this journey of Life!

A weekly blog from the Family & Consumer Sciences Department

6 Steps to Help Children Manage Conflict

by Kathryn McElddery - August 18, 2017

"I want it!" "No! I want it!" Children fighting can quickly drive a parent crazy. It can be tricky to know how to judge these conflicts fairly and, at the same time, teach our children to negotiate their own problems and conflicts.


Here are six steps to mediate a conflict that may work for you. 
Two girls sitting on sidewalk arguing


  • Approach the conflict calmly.  Keeping your emotions in control allows you to assess the situation without escalating the problem.
  • Acknowledge children's feelings. (Hold any object in question.) "Joey, I see that you are angry. Katie, you are upset, too. I will hold onto this [name toy or object] for a minute while we talk about the problem."
  • Gather information.  Coming in from the outside, we may not see the problem clearly, even when we think we do.  Ask each child what it is they want.    
  • Restate the problem.  "Joey wants to play with both trucks and Katie, you want the blue truck." 
  • Ask for ideas for solutions and choose one together.  Often the children will come up with better solutions than the parents do. Joey: "Maybe I can play with both trucks first and then Katie can have the blue truck."   Parent: "Katie, Joey wants to play with both trucks first, then you can have a turn with the blue truck. What do you think?"  Here, Katie might come up with a solution, and Joey might have another solution.  You can help the children understand the various choices and together they choose one. 
  • Give follow-up support.  Give the children positive feedback as they carry out their plan. 
Resolving a conflict or negotiating a problem to a solution is a learned skill.  With your mediation help as the children go through the steps of negotiation and compromise, eventually, hopefully, your children will learn to resolve their conflicts themselves, whether it is with family and friends, or later with colleagues and spouses.  Patience, with the kids and with yourself is key. Don't assume you will all get it right every time. Practice makes perfect!
Resources: High Scope Curriculum Series; "I Want All the Turns!" Supporting Children in Resolving Problems and Conflicts video.