Knowing how to resolve conflict is super important in life, right? It’s actually quite a complex skill to learn. The younger children are when they begin to develop strategies to resolve conflict the better they will be at it when they are adults. If we make an effort to help young children develop strategies to resolve their own conflict, it will transform their social skills and change the way the cope. CHolden will have more resilience and an increased ability to maintain relationships as adults.
Here is a quick easy way to begin talking with children about how to resolve conflict. This activity will allow children to record some strategies to use, and have those strategies ready to whip out when they need them.
These ‘Magic Problem-Solving Wands’ are made from natural found items, like sticks and recycled cardboard boxes. The children come up with one common conflict and one solution to write on each side of each wand.
What you need:
- Collect some sticks
- Some wool (whatever colours you have)
- Some old cardboard boxes
- A black marker
- A craft knife (for the grown-ups to use)
- A pair of scissors
What to do:
- Go for a walk outside and collect some sticks. Find some wool and wrap it around the sticks. This may take your children a few days, but that’s ok. Its relaxing and gives them a great sense of satisfaction when they finally fill up the whole stick.
- Help your child draw some large stars on an old card board box, then cut them out with scissors.
- Sit together and talk about what your child’s most common conflicts with other children are. You can ask them things like: “What makes you feel cross? Does any thing make you feel sad? Did you ever have a fight? What did you do? If they can’t think of anything it helps to talk through scenarios. “When another child takes your favourite red car how do you feel? What could you do if you both want to play with it? Encourage your child to come up with the answers themselves. Think about simple conflicts you have seen your own child deal with, so that the solutions are relevant to them.
- Write the problems on one side of each star and the strategies your child will use on the other. Help your child attach the star to the sticks. I used a craft knife to make a small slit in each stick and wedged the stars in.
Examples of conflict and solutions that might arise for young children:
Problem: I want to play with a toy at the same time as my friend.
Solution: my friend could play first, and I could play after. We could use a five-minute timer to measure how long we each have.
Problem: Another child pushed me.
Solution: I could say: “Don’t push me, I don’t like it” In a big strong voice.
Problem: My best friend wants to play somewhere different from me.
Solution: We could play in different places and still be friends.
Problem: Somebody broke my tower.
Solution: I could tell them that I built the tower, and that I feel cross, but we can build it again together.
Using the wands:
Put your wands in a pot and sit them in your child’s bedroom, lounge or preschool room. When the familiar conflicts arise with their siblings or friends, remind them they can get a wand and find the solution themselves. Before long your children will know the strategies well and resolve problems without even needing the wands to support them. You can add more complex messages on the wands as more complex problems arise!