From Referee to Relaxation (Helping Your Kids with Conflict)

Kids are interesting.  One moment they’re laughing, playing, and having a great time…  the next moment they’re arguing and fighting — a full-fledged conflict. What!?

Can't we all just get along? 5 things to teach our children about conflict resolution so they grow to be healthy adults!
photo: Pinterest

Whether at school with friends or at home with siblings, kids are going to have disagreements and hurt feelings. We know you ultimately want your Smart Kids to become Smart Adults… so how do you help when kids inevitably have conflict?

5 Ways to Help Kids Work Out Conflict

5 Ways to Help Kids Work Out a Conflict

1. Listen and learn

Getting your child to communicate with words — not fists — is important. You can rest assured that listening thoughtfully to your child is the most important thing you can do. When you let him have your full attention while he explains the conflict, you help him learn a healthy way to decompress — and he begins to feel understood.

(Bonus: it gives you time to think about a best course of action!)

What do you do when your child has a disagreement? These 5 simple ideas will save your day! Follow the link for more ideas from

2. Boost problem solving techniques

Ask your child how she thinks the problem could be solved. Guide her toward the best solution and encourage her to carry it through.  Even if she decides not to act, practicing the process will teach her and give her confidence for solving future conflicts.

3. Solve by asking

On that note, another great strategy is to brainstorm for solutions by giving her a chance to respond to prompts, like:

  • “I wonder if Lara understands that you would like to play with the basketball, too.”
  • “I wonder what Sean would do if you suggested taking turns on the bike.”
  • “I wonder if the teacher knows that you would like to be the line leader.”

You can keep these conversation starters in your back pocket to guide your child to the best resolution.

Want to Help Your Child Work Out Conflict? Ask Questions

4. Give kids the opportunity to work it out

When it comes to conflict, instinctively parents want to rescue their kids. Totally normal. But oddly enough, while rescuing feels like the right thing to do, sometimes it can be counterproductive. Much of the time kids are actually able to work out their own problems. A little time, a little negotiation, and somehow it all works out.  Self-confidence and independence: what great skills to learn at a young age!

How can rescuing your child from conflict be a bad thing? Find out more at

5. Help your child deal with reality

Here’s your permission to let your kid know not every problem in life can be fixed. Oh, how we wish it were all sunshine and roses for our wonderful kiddos! But sometimes it’s just not.  Sometimes people just don’t do what we’d like them to do. And sometimes we don’t get what we want.

Tough? Maybe a little. But what a gift to your children: to learn these lessons slowly, with the guidance of a loving parent, than to face the teen years and adulthood underprepared.

Teach your kids to grow into better adults by helping them learn healthy conflict resolution. 5 SIMPLE Steps at the link.

Children who have a hand in solving their own predicaments seem to be more in control, capable, and confident in life. May our kids enter adulthood ready and able to live out what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. could only dream just over 50 years ago…

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was a manifestation of hope that humanity might one day get out of its own way by finding the courage to realize that love and nonviolence are not indicators of weakness but gifts of significant strength.”
― AberjhaniIlluminated Corners: Collected Essays & Articles Volume I

Things I'm teaching my kids about disagreements, inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. Find more ideas at!

So what do you think? When was a time you had to step in? Or a time you let your child work it out? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!

READ NEXT: The Unlikely Reason Adversity Helps Build Resilient Kids 

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About Aubrey Hunt
Before hopping on the crazy ride we call motherhood, I studied engineering and taught math and science to middle and high school students. Now, perhaps like you, I fill my days singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider and praying my preschooler will eat a vegetable — any vegetable!