Tools for Dealing with Conflict

Tools for Dealing with Conflict
Use redirection. Redirection means offering children positive alternatives to the unsuccessful
methods they are trying to use in a conflict. Usually, when children are fighting, you will be
redirecting them to use words, rather than their bodies to express themselves. After stopping
the hurtful behavior you can offer another way to express the same idea: "I'm going to stop you
from kicking Kevin. You can tell Kevin that it hurts your feelings when he calls you 'dummy.'" "I
can't let you push Jocelyn off the slide, but you can tell her, 'Move, please, I'm sliding now.'"
Give information. Sometimes, children lack simple information about human relationships or
the effects of their actions: "When you bite Bo, it hurts and she cries." "When you call people
names, it can hurt their feelings." "If you want the book he is reading, you could bring him
another one to see if he wants to trade."
State the problem. It is difficult to think of solutions if you don't know what the problem is.
Children may think that the problem is the child who is trying to grab their puzzle and that the
logical solution would be to get the other child out of there. Letting children know that the
problem is that there are two children who want to play with a puzzle and only one puzzle,
allows them to bring their creative thinking to developing a solution.
Help children brainstorm different solutions. Once you define the problem, you can ask
children to help come up of solutions: "Two children want to play with puzzles and there is only
one puzzle. What shall we do?" After waiting to see if children can come up with ideas, you
could help direct their focus. "Are there any more puzzles here?" "Can two people work on one
puzzle?" "Could one person work on the truck and another on the road?"
Ask for help from other children. Children may be more open to the ideas of their peers than
ours. Also, for children who are observing a conflict, it can be empowering and reassuring to be
able to do something.