How can you support children to solve conflicts themselves?
In different environments such as the day care center, school, after-school care and also at home, conflicts between children can occur again and again. Our goal should be to provide age-appropriate support to children so that they can learn to resolve these conflicts on their own. It is important that children develop a strong sense of self and an awareness of their bodies, feelings and emotions.
Why should children solve conflicts themselves?
Resolving conflicts themselves helps children develop important social and emotional skills. When children are able to resolve their own conflicts, they develop a sense of autonomy and self-efficacy. They learn to think and make decisions independently, which strengthens their self-confidence.
Conflict provides an opportunity for children to develop social skills such as communication, empathy and cooperation. By learning to express their own needs and respond to the needs of others, they improve their interpersonal relationships.
Conflicts require the ability to analyse problems, find solutions and make decisions. When children learn to resolve their own conflicts, they develop important problem-solving skills that benefit them in many areas of life.
Conflicts can trigger strong emotions and children need to learn how to deal with these emotions. By learning to recognize and regulate their own emotions, they develop emotional intelligence and are better able to deal with conflict situations.
Our tips on how to support children here:
1. Be a role model: children learn a lot through observation and imitation. Demonstrate constructive conflict resolution behavior yourself in your own life and in your interaction with other people.
2. Encourage communication: help children to express their thoughts and feelings appropriately. Encourage them to communicate openly with each other and to listen when others speak.
3. Develop emotional intelligence: help children to recognize and understand their own emotions and to develop empathy for the feelings of others. This can help them to better understand conflicts and find empathic solutions.
4. Build problem-solving skills: teach children problem-solving strategies such as finding compromises or brainstorming for different possible solutions. Encourage them to work together to find solutions rather than one party winning and the other losing.
5. See conflict resolution as an opportunity: help children to see conflicts as opportunities for personal development and strengthening relationships. Show them that conflicts are normal and that it is important to find constructive solutions.
6. Mediation and facilitation: if children are involved in conflicts, you as adults can take a supportive role by acting as mediators or facilitators. This involves helping the children to articulate their points of view and to look for solutions together.
7. Positive reinforcement: praise and encourage children when they resolve conflicts in a positive way. Reinforce the desired behaviour to strengthen their motivation to resolve conflicts constructively.
Note: It is important to note that learning conflict resolution skills is an ongoing process that takes time and practice. Be patient and support children along the way by providing them with the tools and strategies they need to successfully manage conflict.