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Types of Children's Conflicts

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Today, educators are spending as much time helping children learn nonviolent methods of solving problems as they spend on creating other ways of learning. Whether children are bickering over a plaything or calling one another names, conflicts are a fact of life. The table below describes some typical conflicts children experience and suggests strategies for prevention and intervention.

Type Description Appropriate Strategies
Possession disputes Occur when children argue over ownership of a toy or material.
  • Ignore the dispute.
  • Ask children to share the material or toy.
  • Redirect the behavior by suggesting an alternative material or way to use the material.
  • Discourage the practice of bringing items to school from home that children will not or should not share.
Power struggle disputes Occur when children want to be first or force other children to play "their way."
  • Suggest different ways of playing the same role or using the same materials for different purposes.
  • Reassure children they will get their turn.
  • Keep track of turn taking to ensure that every child really does get a turn.
Group-entry disputes Occurs when children try to join the ongoing activity of another group.
  • Use the "you can't say you can't play" rule to deal with problems of insiders and outsiders.
  • Be clear that all children are expected to get along with one another.
  • Model ways to approach an ongoing group of children already engaged in activity.
Aggressive play Occurs when violent, boisterous play escalates in intensity and tempers flare and frustration rises.
  • Set reasonable limits on play.
  • Temporarily disband the group and redirect the children to a different activity.
  • Establish a caring classroom where adults and children demonstrate cooperation, kindness, and respect for others.
  • Have conversations about what kindness, cooperation, and respect mean and how children can show those behaviors in the classroom.
Peer and adult disputes Occurs when children have differences over rules, preferences for games or activities, or initiating or maintaining interactions.
  • Provide opportunities for peer acceptance.
  • Provide opportunities to participate in rule-governed games.
  • Model constructive ways of dealing with conflict and problems.
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