Ohio State University Extension Factsheet

Family and Consumer Sciences
1787 Neil Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1295

Teaching Children to Resolve Conflict


Joyce Fittro
Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences, Delaware County.

Many parents feel discouraged when their children bicker or resist requests made of them. How do we teach children to cooperate and resolve conflict?

If we want children to stop fighting, we must teach them new skills for resolving conflict. They need to learn problem-solving skills and develop avenues for generating lots of alternatives for getting what they want in socially acceptable ways. We also want them to become independent and accountable.

It has been found that a child's ability to get what he or she wants in an acceptable manner is directly related to the number of solutions or alternatives the child can think of in a situation. A child who can think of five ways to get what he wants will generally display more socially acceptable behavior than the child who can think of only one or two ways.

Here are some general steps in teaching problem-solving skills to children.

The process of teaching problem-solving often seems tedious, and parents may be tempted to just tell a child what to do. But that does not allow children to gain the experience of thinking of what to do for themselves.


Elizabeth Creary (1984) Kids Can Cooperate, Parenting Press.