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  • Naomi Sukenik

Conflict Resolution

Day 66 5/20/20


The terms” resolve conflict, problem solve, social interaction...” are often used to describe what happens when self-directed play occurs. They are also buzz words. How many times have you read “X...promotes problem solving skills”?


What do these phrases actually mean? What do they mean specifically in regards to self-direct play? Why do we claim this is more likely to take place during unstructured play time versus structured play time?


Today we will take a closer look at an example of conflict resolution. The same method can be used on more difficult conflicts as well.


Conflict resolution- When you see a child has a dilemma or a conflict with another child what is your reaction?

If you are an educator/parent/caregiver/ever have come in contact with a child, how often does a child come up to you and say: “ David stole my pencil” in a whiny voice that irks you despite your actual response which is patient and helpful.

In Scenario 1

Child: “David stole my pencil”

You: “David, (yelling across the room), Did you take his pencil?”

David: Looks at you ashamed while holding the pencil. And yells: “But he took mine first.”

You: Well, Did you take his pencil first?

Child: Yes (also looking ashamed)

You: Why did you do that? (FYI HE has no idea why he did it- kids are not able to answer these why questions)

Child: (silence...child does not answer.)

You: Please return his pencil and David and Please give him back his pencil too.(in an annoyed voice) Both give each other their pencils back and run away from each other.

Scenario OVER- what have the children understood from that interaction?

  1. If I need help, I should go to an adult (ok, good lesson)

  2. I need help for very small conflicts meaning, I’m helpless (Not a great lesson)

  3. I feel guilty because I did something wrong and my teacher was upset with me (again, not a great lesson)

  4. I'm mad at David for taking my pencil as he is at me. My friends will stay angry at me for an unlimited amount of time. (Truly awful lesson)

In Scenario 2 you say:

“ I'm sorry he took your pencil, it looks like you really like that pencil. What would you like to do about it?

Child: “ I want my pencil back”

You: OK, so what do you want to tell David?

Child: “ Give me back my pencil”

You: OK maybe you should try that.

Child: I did and he wouldn't give it back! (child is getting angrier at your lack of help)...

You: Would you like help?

Child: Yes!

You: Together you approach David and say: “he has something he wants to tell you.” (Then you listen)

Child: I really want my pencil back.

David: But you took my pencil.

Child: OK let’s switch back.

You: OK, you guys happy now?

Together: yes!

Scenario 2 over: So what did the child understand?

  1. When I need help I try by myself and if it doesn't work I go to my teacher

  2. Im very very frustrated that he took my pencil and didn't return it when I asked (Im angry)

  3. Even though I took his pencil first, I came up with a good idea and together we switched back, now we can be friends again!

  4. My teacher stood by my side but I feel really good that I did that myself.

Scenario three:

Now What if you were not going to help? What if you listened to the child complaining but did nothing to resolve this conflict. Instead you just show empathy and say something incredibly “ridiculous” like:

You: ”I'm sorry that he took your pencil, I wish you still had a pencil too.”

What would the child do then?


After enough times of doing step two the child will have enough confidence in himself to resolve more conflicts on his own, even ones that are much harder to navigate. He also knows that if he really needs it, there is a supportive, non-judgmental adult by his side.


Today in my family we dealt a lot with conflict resolution. I want you to draw me no I want him to draw me. Don't color on me color on your outline. Also, a lot of talk about death today, interestingly not from COVID but from being flattened or smushed.

The crying and irritating one another was non- stop today. At this point my kids know I'm not going to get involved so they will come to me when they are already calm and need a hug.



Also, when you need to escape... climb a tree, high, so they cant reach you!


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