Solving Problems With Other People

Most children need adult guidance to help them manage conflict until they develop their own problem-solving skills. The way adults respond to children’s conflicts can help or harm their ability to improve these skills. Parents and other caring adults can help children manage conflict by approaching it as a shared problem that can be solved by understanding all points of view and finding solutions that everyone can accept. You can identify and practice strategies to guide your child through a conflict.

Conflict is a difference in the opinions or actions of two people or groups.

What we know:

When adults solve a problem for a child, it may seem to work in the short term. However, it doesn’t teach them how to solve the problem in the future.  Children may also feel that their needs have not been considered. Coaching children through conflict helps them feel involved and allows them to practice and improve their own skills. The Raising Caring Kids video “Problem Solve” shows one way to help kids solve conflict.

Try this:

Try using these 5 steps to help your child calm down from Psychology Today before trying to resolve the conflict by:

  • managing your own emotions,
  • helping them feel connected to you,
  • accepting their feelings,
  • resisting the urge to punish, and
  • helping them feel safe.

Conflict often generates strong feelings such as anger, sadness, or embarrassment. These feelings often get in the way of being able to solve a problem. Accept children’s feelings and help them to manage them. When we patiently guide children in using basic problem-solving skills, we give them a chance to experience themselves as good problem-solvers who can talk directly with others when they’re upset.

Print this as a 1-page handout (Solving Problems With Other People, PDF).

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