Healthy Kids - Spring 2021



Fighting Fair

Conflict resolution tips for kids

onflict is a part of life, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some arguments can be productive and lead to change, but using the right language and fighting fair is key. “Conflict is inevitable,” says Ben Maxwell, MD, interim director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Rady Children’s. “The important part isn’t necessarily making sure every kid gets along with every other kid, but teaching kids conflict management skills.” These tips from Dr. Maxwell will help kids get their point across to their peers, siblings and even adults in a more productive way. (They work for grown-ups, too.) C

n Take a moment to regain your calm. n Determine what the conflict is really about. n Explain how you’re feeling. It can be empowering for kids to express how they feel. It helps to communicate that their emotions have meaning and are valuable. n Listen openly to how the other person feels. Conflict resolution is a two-way street. n Look for a solution. An ideal outcome is a win-win, where a similar situation can be avoided in the future. n Sometimes an apology is necessary. A sincere apology means one person takes ownership of their behavior and their mistake and can express regret for how it may be affecting the other person. n When all else fails, bail. If a workable solution is a no-go, sometimes just taking a break—giving each kid time to play on their own—is really a useful strategy. Kids can also decide when to walk away, for instance, when another child is persistently breaking the rules or making them feel bad. They can say something like, “I don’t like the way you are pushing me right now. I’m not going to play anymore.” n Follow up. Once there’s a clear understanding of what’s expected and how that differs from what happened, check in, stay consistent about that plan and follow through.


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