Ramon Learns How to Resolve A Conflict

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Getting Along: Ramon Learns how to Resolve a Conflict

Teaching children how to get along with others can be complex. One aspect of getting along with others is being able to resolve conflicts when they arise. For a child, this may involve recognizing her own feelings, understanding the feelings of others, stating how she feels, and stating what behavior you would like the other person to change. These are many steps for a young child—or even an adult—to master!

Two and three year olds

Two and three year olds are just beginning to name their feelings. At this age, they may have difficulty recognizing other people’s feelings, and may not understand the impact their actions could have on others.

What you can do
Teach your children to understand their own feelings and thoughts by naming them. When a situation arises, say, “this makes me feel sad.” Or, “How did this make you feel?” Keep it simple and start with ‘happy,’ ‘sad,’ ‘mad’ (angry). There are many excellent books for young children about feelings.

Four and five year olds

Four and five year olds are becoming more aware of their feelings, and can verbalize them more readily.  If they have been in preschool, or in social situations with other children, they may have been in situations where strong feelings were evoked. Developmentally, they are more concerned with their own needs still. At the same time, their language skills are becoming more advanced.

What you can do
Teaching children to identify their feelings as they arise is appropriate for 4 and 5 year olds, especially because of their developing language skills. But because this age group is also becoming aware of larger concepts, you can discuss what one feels as a result of another’s actions. Teach them to understand if/then scenarios in their dealing with others. Help them understand the consequences of their own actions and cause and effect, by saying, “When you do this, I feel….” Or, “How do you think …feels when you do….?” You can also build stories and perform role plays with your child, showing a situation where people worked out their conflict. For instance, in the story about Ramon, ask your child what Ramon did to resolve the conflict. Tie the story to an experience your child might have had that is similar. Having these conversations is a way to foster respect for others, can encourage children to identify how they feel in a situation, and will help develop conflict resolution skills. Stress that children aren’t “good” or “bad,” but that sometimes they can do things that are hurtful to others. There are many good books which deal with feelings and getting along.

Six and seven year olds

Six and seven year olds should have many examples from their daily lives of situations where have not gotten along with others. Their language is developed to the point where they can articulate their feelings, as well as describe a situation more accurately. They need help finding a solution to conflicts.

What you can do

School aged children are presented with many situations which require conflict resolution. They will hurt others’ feelings and their feelings will also be hurt.  When your child’s feelings are hurt, discuss the situation with your child, and ask him or her to describe what the other child did. Then ask, “How did you feel when this happened?” Next, ask the child what he would like the other child to do, i.e. ‘stop calling me names,’ or ‘saying mean things about me.’ Teach your child the steps of conflict resolution:

1) When someone hurts your feelings, tell them how you feel.  (‘I feel sad when….’)

2) Figure out what you want the other person to do (‘Stop saying mean things’).

3) Ask the person to say they are sorry.

A note about bullying:
Listen carefully to your children’s stories and try to distinguish between simply not getting along and bullying. If you feel your child is being bullied, contact the teacher or a school authority immediately and ask for help. Bullying is a serious situation. See the story and Teaching Tips for Ramon Sticks up for Himself: A Story about Bullying.

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