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How to Resolve & Mediate Conflict Between Children

Conflicts among kids are bound to happen, especially as they begin to share spaces with other children. Instead of trying to dodge these squabbles, teaching children to resolve them on their own and safely will help them build important life skills like empathy, communication, and problem-solving.

In this article, we highlight a few common scenarios that occur. If you have been working with them for a while then you would have encountered some of them. Here are some strategies to help you manage and resolve conflicts among children positively and effectively.

Common Conflict Scenarios and Strategies

1. Disagreements Over Toys

Scenario: Two children, Emma and Jack, argue over who gets to play with a popular toy. They may hit or call each other names. In this situation, it is best to intervene immediately before it escalates.

Strategy: Teach Turn-Taking

  1. Introduce a timer to help children take turns. Explain that when the timer goes off, it’s the other child’s turn.

  2. Emphasise on sharing and encourage the children to agree on the length of each turn. This will give them a sense of autonomy over the situation.

  3. Closely supervise the sharing, at least at first, to ensure the strategy is working. Reinforce what both children agreed to if necessary.

Outcome: Emma and Jack learn to share and understand the importance of fairness, reducing the likelihood of future disputes over toys.

2. Arguments During Group Activities

Scenario: During a group game, Lily and Sam argue over the rules, leading to frustration and a halt in the activity.

Strategy: Establish Clear Rules


  1. Before starting the game, have a group discussion to agree on the rules.

  2. Create a visual rule chart that can be referenced during the game.

Outcome: With clear and agreed-upon rules, Lily and Sam can enjoy the game with fewer conflicts, understanding the importance of following shared guidelines.

3. Name Calling and Hurtful Words

Scenario: Michael calls Sophie a mean name during playtime, leading to hurt feelings and a potential conflict.

Strategy: Promote Positive Communication


  1. Teach children to use “I” statements to express their feelings, such as “I feel sad when you call me names.”

  2. Role-play scenarios where children practise positive communication and expressing their emotions.

Outcome: Michael learns the impact of his words, and Sophie feels heard, fostering a more respectful and empathetic environment.

Conflict Resolution Activities

Create a Positive Environment

  • Establishing a positive and inclusive environment is the foundation for reducing conflict.

  • Encourage respect, kindness, and understanding among children.

  • Set clear expectations for behaviour and make sure all children understand the rules and the importance of following them.

Teach Them Conflict Resolution Skills

Children often lack the skills to resolve conflicts on their own. Teaching them specific strategies can be incredibly beneficial.

Some key skills to teach include:

  • Active Listening: Encourage children to listen to each other without interrupting. This helps them understand the other person’s perspective.

  • I-Messages: Teach children to express their feelings and needs without blaming others. For example, “I feel upset when you take my toys without asking because I feel they might get broken.

  • Problem-Solving: Guide children through the process of identifying the problem, brainstorming possible solutions, and agreeing on a solution together.


Role-playing is an effective way to practise conflict-resolution skills. Create scenarios that children might encounter and guide them through the steps of resolving the conflict. This hands-on practice can make them more confident in applying these skills in real-life situations.


While it’s important to teach children how to resolve conflict independently, sometimes, they need help to resolve their conflict. Acting as a neutral person, you can help them navigate their disagreements.

Here’s how to meditate effectively:

  • Stay Neutral: Ensure that you do not take sides. Your role is to facilitate a fair discussion.

  • Set Ground Rules: Establish rules for the discussion, such as no interrupting and no name-calling.

  • Facilitate the Discussion: Allow each child to explain their perspective while the other listens. Encourage them to use the skills they’ve learned, such as active listening and I-messages.

  • Find a Solution Together: Help the children brainstorm solutions and agree on one that is acceptable to both parties.

Encourage Empathy

Helping children develop empathy can reduce the number of conflicts and improve their ability to resolve them. Activities such as group discussions, reading stories about diverse perspectives, and encouraging children to consider how others might feel can foster empathy.

Provide Positive Reinforcement

Recognise and reward positive conflict resolution. Praise children when they successfully resolve conflicts on their own or with minimal assistance. Positive reinforcement encourages them to continue using these skills.

Model Appropriate Behaviour

Children often learn by observing adults. Model the conflict resolution skills you want them to learn. Show them how to handle disagreements calmly and respectfully in your interactions with others.

Involve Parents

Keep parents informed about the conflict resolution strategies being used in the after-school club. Encourage them to reinforce these strategies at home. Consistency between home and the club can strengthen the children’s skills.

Reflect and Debrief

After a conflict has been resolved, take time to reflect and debrief with the children involved. Discuss what happened, what worked, and what could be done differently next time. This helps solidify the learning experience and prepares them for future conflicts.

Helping children resolve conflicts independently and accurately is not only about managing disagreements but also about teaching valuable life skills. By creating a positive environment, teaching specific conflict resolution skills, and providing opportunities for practice and reinforcement, you can help children navigate conflicts constructively and grow into empathetic, respectful individuals.

To help you understand these conflicts and their resolutions in detail we created a free guide to help you. If you are interested in learning more please use the form below to download your copy. We hope it helps.

Supporting Resources

  1. National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA): Offers resources on conflict resolution in early years settings. NDNA

  2. Blossom Educational: Provides articles on conflict resolution strategies for nursery managers. Blossom Educational

  3. NSPCC Learning: Includes training materials on safeguarding and conflict management. NSPCC Learning